IPU Mission to Burundi Calls for Release of Former MPs

By Inter-Parlementary Union (IPU)

GENEVA, Switzerland, June 25, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- IPU is repeating calls on authorities in Burundi to immediately release two imprisoned politicians following a four-day mission to the country.

Led by the President of IPU's Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, Kassoum Tapo, the mission visited former MPs Gérard Nkurunziza and Hussein Radjabu in detention last week.

Nkurunziza was a member of the dissident wing of the ruling political party when he was taken into custody in 2008 for allegedly supplying arms for a coup against the government. Despite no supporting evidence and no weapons being seized, he has remained in prison ever since and never been put on trial.

“Gérard Nkurunziza has been stuck in jail for five years while being subjected to endless judicial delays,” said Tapo. “Justice delayed is justice denied and we fully expect authorities to keep their assurances that his case will be resolved in a matter of weeks.”

IPU is also pushing for the early release of senior political dissident Hussein Radjabu, for which he is legally eligible having served more than a quarter of his sentence. Radjabu was sentenced to 13 years in prison for subversion in April 2008 in a case marked by grave irregularities.

The mission, which was grateful for the co-operation of the Burundian authorities, welcomed the release of two other dissident MPs Pasteur Mpawenayo and Deo Nshirimana, who were held in preventive detention for four years before their acquittal in 2012.

IPU was encouraged to learn that Burundi's Parliamentary Commission on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians will continue to actively follow up on all the cases.

Tapo also expressed hope that the proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission will be independent and effective enough to shed light on the episodes of violence that have plagued Burundi since independence from Belgium in 1962, including the assassination of key political leaders in the 1990s.

The Burundi visit was part of a two-country mission by IPU's Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to the region, which also addressed cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo.