“Ayez toujours dans la vie l’espoir de surmonter toutes les difficultés” [In life, always have hope to overcome all difficulties] — Ernest Manirumva to his colleagues on 8 April 2009.
Ernest Manirumva, a human rights defender investigating police corruption in Burundi, was stabbed to death in April 2009.
Ernest Manirumva was vice-president of the Burundian civil society organization Anti-corruption and Economic Malpractice Observatory (OLUCOME) and vice-president of an official body that regulates public procurement. He was found stabbed to death outside his home in Bujumbura on 9 April 2009. An empty, blood-stained file folder found on his bed, and evidence of a break-in at his office at the Agriculture Ministry, suggested that Ernest Manirumva’s killers were seeking sensitive documents in his possession. Shortly before his death, according to his colleagues and friends, Ernest Manirumva had been investigating cases of police corruption and police attempts to purchase firearms illegally from Malaysia.
The Burundian authorities took some steps to identify the killers, but civil society groups consistently criticized the authorities for failing to adequately follow up leads and for failing to carry out an independent investigation. The first two judicial commissions that were established were abandoned after civil society protested that the people on the commissions were too closely linked to the police and the National Intelligence Service, both of which were implicated in witness statements as being linked to the crime.
A trial started at the Bujumbura Court of Appeal in Burundi on 14 July 2010. There were 16 suspects in total, including police, civilians and demobilized soldiers. However, civil society groups campaigning for justice for Ernest Manirumva insisted that there are further suspects that have not been charged. After procedural delays of one year and nine months, the trial was completed in just three days, between 5 and 11 April 2012. In May 2012, 14 individuals were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for the murder of Ernest Manirumva. The Public Prosecutor did not consider important leads and recommendations from reports by the FBI, which assisted in investigations, and the third commission of inquiry established by the Burundian authorities.
Members of organizations that have publicly denounced the killing and the failings of the judicial inquiries into the case have themselves received threats.
Anti-corruption and Economic Malpractice Observatory (OLUCOME)