Ntahangwa High Court has acquitted 5 human rights defendants who have been detained since February 2023.
After court hearing this Thursday. The court acquitted after they were found not guilty of the alleged crimes.
The republic attorney asked to hand down between 10 and 15 years with fine.
According to one of the lawyers they were acquitted by the judge as reported by a local newsroom.
The five human rights defenders were charged with rebellion, as well as undermining the internal security of the State, jeopardizing the functioning of the national economy, and rebellion.
The charges appear to have been based on their relationship with a foreign international organization and the funding they received from it, according to observers.
Two of the defenders work for the Association of Women Jurists of Burundi (AFJB) and the other three for the Association for Peace and the Promotion of Human Rights (APDH).
On February 14th 2023, two representatives Sonia Ndikumasabo and Marie Emerusabe respectively President and General Coordinator of the Association of Women Lawyers of Burundi (AFJB) were arrested at the international Airport Melchior Ndadaye.
Together, they were with Audace Havyarimana and Sylvana Inamahoro respectively Legal representative and Executive Director of of the Association for Peace and the Promotion of Human Rights (APDH).
They were boarding heading to Kampala in Uganda for a meeting with partners.
The fifth, Prosper Runyange, coordinator of the APDH land project, was arrested in Ngozi.
Two days after their arrest, in press conference, the Minister of Home affairs, Community Development and Public Security, Martin Niteretse, accused the organizations of collaborating with an international non-governmental organization
“The case is ongoing. The results we have at the moment show that there is a high probability that there is a risk of financing terrorism through these funds. We must be vigilant on all points so that nothing disturbs peace and public order. Under international human rights law and standards, seeking, obtaining and using financial resources, including those from foreign and international sources, is an essential component of the right to freedom of association. Unjustified restrictions on the resources available to organizations have a negative impact on the right to freedom of association,” said Ninteretse.