from OMEGA SSUUNA in Bujumbura, Burundi
BUJUMBURA, (CAJ News) – BURUNDI authorities have been urged to release and drop charges against eight former refugees forcibly returned from Tanzania.
They remain in detention despite the prosecution in the capital, Bujumbura, failing to provide evidence to justify their continued detention.
The men- Didier Bizimana, Felix Cimpaye, Revocatus Ndayishimiye, Radjabu Ndizeye, Emmanuel Nizigama, Anaclet Nkunzimana, Ezéchiel Stéphane Niyoyandemye and Saidi Rwasa- were arrested in the refugee camps of Mtendeli and Nduta in Tanzania between late July and early August 2020.
Tanzanian authorities held them incommunicado for several weeks at the Kibondo police station, where they were tortured.
They had fled the political crisis under then-president, Pierre Nkurunziza, who died last year.
The refugees alleged the national intelligence services and the Tanzanian police mistreated them and demanded one million Tanzanian shillings (US $430) to be released.
Unable to pay, the refugees were taken by security forces to the Burundian border with their hands tied and their faces covered.
“The Burundian state is turning the knife in the wounds by pursuing a group of forcibly returned refugees who have already been victims of heinous crimes in Tanzania,” said Lewis Mudge, director for Central Africa at Human Rights Watch.
He added, “This sham trial highlights the politicization of the return of refugees but also the influence that the executive still exerts on the Burundian courts.”
Burundi spilled into crisis in 2015 when Nkurunziza forced an unconstitutional third term.
Thousands of opposition supporters fled the resultant human rights abuses.
New president, Évariste Ndayishimiye, has pledged to reverse the trend.
– CAJ News