Prominent lawyer illegally imprisoned in Burundi

03.06.2016 ( Last modified: 29.08.2019 )

Jean-Pierre (real name withheld) was a renowned Burundian lawyer and an opponent of the government. In 2011, he was stopped and detained in a witness corruption case. He was charged for witness subordination – an infringement which, regardless of its veracity, has been time-barred since 2006.

This pretext concealed the real reason for his arrest: Jean-Pierre’s political activism. At the time of the victim’s arrest, several other lawyers were stopped and released on unclear grounds.

Jean-Pierre’s arrest and detention were riddled with many errors. For example, taken into custody immediately after his arrest, he was not brought before a judge until 10 days after the legal deadline. Other procedural errors were also made. The victim wasn’t even released to attend a relative’s funeral – and this despite the fact that he doesn’t represent a threat to the public. At the current time, Jean-Pierre is still in prison.


In 2011, TRIAL International brought the case before the United Nations in order for Jean-Pierre to be finally released. The NGO requested them to recognize Burundi’s failure to comply with articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (right to liberty, to security of the person, to the respect of safeguards pertaining to deprivation of liberty and to a fair trial).

One year later, the United Nations recognized the arbitrary nature of Jean-Pierre’s detention and the link between his political activities and his imprisonment. As a consequence, the United Nations invited the State of Burundi to ensure an adequate reparation to the victim.


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