On the 2nd October 2020 the Rt Hon Fabien Banciryanino, a Tutsi independent Member of Parliament, was arrested by the State Police Security without any arrest warrant and is still being held in custody for three days.  In fact, the State Police Security Officer entered his house without a warrant and requested him to attend his office “in order to discuss important matters”.  It is during this “alleged conversation and discussion” that the Rt Hon Fabien Banciryanino was informed of the ground for which he is being held at the Driving Special Brigade (BSR) Police custody. He was informed, without any arrest warrant and lawyer, that he is being investigated for “Threatening the state security” for a statement he had made during the Parliament session which took place on the 19th February 2020.

On this particular day, the only point on the Parliament agenda was to debate and vote the enactment of an Act of Parliament awarding the late President Pierre Nkurunziza the title of “the Eternal Guide of Patriotism” and the benefits and perks attached to this prestigious award.

It is during the Parliamentary debate that the Rt Hon Fabien Banciryanino, also known for his outspokenness, made clear his view. He stated that the late President Nkurunziza did not deserve such an honour given his catastrophic record on human rights protection and in economic matters. He concluded that instead of elevating him to this honour, the late President Nkurunziza may have to be prosecuted for human rights and economic crimes he had committed.

The Constitution of Burundi and the internal Rules and Regulations of the Parliament of Burundi, especially its article 13, grants Members of Parliament the total immunity from prosecution. The specific provision of the article 13 states that members of Parliament are totally irresponsible for any votes or opinions held in the discharge of their functions.

We urge you to reflect upon the right to freedom of speech every and each citizen should enjoy and indeed every member of Parliament.  We are requesting that the Rt Hon Fabien Banciryanino be immediately released since any attempt to arrest him due to a statement he has made under Parliamentary immunity is illegal and breaches his constitutional rights.

Furthermore, the illegal arrest of a Honorary Member of Parliament representing a minority group may be interpreted as a clear evidence that the state would like to silence the minority ethnic group since some horrific crimes against them are already being planned.  At the beginning of your first term, maintaining the Rt Hon Fabien Banciryanino in an illegal custody will undoubtedly confirm the execution of those crimes and discredit your regime.

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