EAC integration

EAC Court dismisses complaints by Burundi suspended CSOs

Emblem_of_East_African_Community.svgIn the statement released on 24 January, the EAC Court says it rejected the application filed by suspended non-profit civil society organizations for interim orders against the Attorney General of the Republic of Burundi and the Secretary General of the East African Community-EAC.

The application is related to the ban of the NGOs and the freezing of their bank accounts. The organizations are the Forum for the Strengthening of the Civil Society (FORSC), the Association for the protection of Human Rights and Persons Detained (APRODH), the Forum for Conscience and Development (FOCODE) and the Network of Honest Citizens (RCP) all suspended in 2016.

“In its ruling, the Court said the conditions to grant an interlocutory injunction are; first, an applicant must show a prima facie case with a probability of success, secondly, if the applicant might suffer irreparable injury, which would not adequately be compensated by an award of damages. Thirdly, if the court is in doubt, it will decide an application on the balance of convenience,” reads the statement.

On the issue of irreparable damage, the court said it did not find in the supporting affidavit that establishes the specific injury the applicants stood to suffer, and if let alone whether or not such injury could or could not be compensated by an award of damage.

Vital Nshimirimana, a human rights activist in exile, says they are not satisfied with the decision of the court arguing that the latter is not convinced that there is irreparable damage to their associations. “We know that our associations are not allowed to work on the national territory but there are some beneficiaries who still need our services,” he says. Nshimirimana says some of those associations used to plead for the detainees in courts and tribunals. “There are many beneficiaries who suffer irreparable damage,” he added.

Nshimirimana believes that the next step will be a decisive one. “This is a step forward and we hope that the next one will be more equitable and profitable to the populations who benefit from the services provided by non-profit associations”, he says.

In October 2016, Pascal Barandagiye, Home Affairs Minister, struck off definitively five CSOs by Ordinance No. 530/1922. Home Affairs Minister said they deviated from their goals set in their statutes and are rather busy tarnishing the country’s image and stirring up hatred and division among the people of Burundi.

Those associations are the Forum for the Strengthening of the Civil Society (FORSC), the Forum for awareness and development (FOCODE), Burundi Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH), the Christian Action for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT) and the Network of Honest Citizens (RCP).