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Pierre Claver Mbonimpa

Pierre Claver Mbonimpa is a Burundian human rights activist known for his work against torture and defending the rights of prisoners. He served as a police officer in Burundi until December 1994, when he was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison on false accusations suffering torture and inhumane treatment during his imprisonment. Upon his release Mbonimpa founded the Burundian Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH). APRODH monitors human rights violations, with an emphasis on torture. The organization also campaigns on behalf of prisoners awaiting trial in the jails of Burundi, which are overcrowded by as much as 300%, and provides legal aid and assistance to victims of rights abuses. Despite receiving death threats for his work, Mbonimpa personally visits Burundian prisons to document cases of torture first-hand. He is the recipient of the 2007 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. He was arrested again in 2014 and jailed for endangering state security after making anti-government remarks during a radio interview. He was released five months later for health reasons. In 2015 Mbonimpa was shot and seriously wounded as he walked home from work. This assassination attempt alarmed the international rights community. “Because of the Burundian government’s dismal track record of repressing human rights defenders, the attempt against Mr. Mbonimpa’s life immediately raises questions about state involvement,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. Also in 2015, in separate incidents, both his son-in-law and son were killed after being arrested in anti-government protests. Mbonimpa remains an important civil society activist and was recently invited to take part in peace talks between government and opposition leaders, but the talks were canceled. He currently lives in Europe in exile and works remotely with APRODH tracking arrests, kidnappings and executions of civilians. He has called on world leaders to turn their attention to Burundi to put an end to the violence and what he denounces as possible genocide.

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