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African Anti-Graft Campaigner Arrested

An anti-corruption activist in Burundi was jailed last month for saying some magistrates won their jobs by bribing Justice Ministry officials.

Faustin Ndikumana, left, is the president of an anti-corruption group called Parole et Action pour le Réveil des Consciences et l’Evolution des Mentalités (PARCEM).

He’s out on bail and still faces charges of making “false declarations” under Burundi’s anti-corruption laws. He could be jailed for up to ten years.

Ndikumana was arrested following a complaint by the Minister of Justice, Pascal Barandagiye. In a letter to the minister, Ndikumana said his group had evidence that some magistrates paid bribes to ministry officials of up to $1,500 to land their jobs.

Burundi ranks 172 (out of 182) on the Corruption Perceptions Index, tied with Equatorial Guinea and Venezuela.

Per capita gross national income for the country’s nine million people is US$160, among the lowest in the word.

Tribal violence killed at least 200,000 Burundians after the country’s first democratically elected president was assassinated in 1993 after only 100 days in office. The civil conflict lasted until 2005.

Activists in Burundi who report on rights abuses and corruption have been arbitrarily arrested and tortured. Some face media smear campaigns linking them to opposition politicians or criminals, and judicial harassment, particularly by defamation suits.


Photo courtesy of Front Line Defenders, a Dublin, Ireland-based international foundation that works to protect human rights defenders.

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