On 9 April 2009, the young economist Ernest MANIRUMVA was found stabbed to death in front of his home in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. A blood-spattered file found on his bed and signs of a break-in at the office where he worked as a consultant to the Ministry of Agriculture suggest that the murderers were looking for sensitive documents that he had in his possession. More than a year after the murder, the truth has not yet been established and justice has stalled.
Ernest Manirumva was vice-president of the Anti-corruption and Economic Malpractice Observatory (OLUCOME), a Burundian civil society organisation, and also of an official body regulating public procurement. Shortly before he died, Manirumva was investigating police corruption cases and attempts to illegally purchase firearms.
OLUCOME staff are regularly harassed and intimidated, often by means of anonymous telephone calls and letters containing death threats. The president of the organisation, Gabriel RUFYIRI, has already been arrested on two occasions in 2004 and 2006 because of his anti-corruption activities.
Since the murder of Ernest Manirumva, the Burundian Government has attempted to stifle civil society’s appeals for justice. Some members of organisations which publicly denounced the murder and the shortcomings of the murder investigation have themselves received threats. Gabriel Rufyiri and Pierre Claver MBONIMPA, president of the Burundian Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH), discovered in March 2010 that government agents were plotting to murder them and make it look like a car accident. Pierre Mbonimpa was also threatened over the telephone : ’’If you continue to work on the Ernest Manirumva case, you’ll end up like him’’.
Similarly, the Forum for the Strengthening of Civil Society (FORSC), which was leading the ’’Justice for Ernest Manirumva’’ campaign, was banned by order of the Ministry of the Interior, and the society’s delegate general Pacifique NININAHAZWE was warned of a plot to murder him. At least three people who would have been able to provide information on the murder of Ernest Manirumva have been killed or disappeared. Some witnesses are reluctant to come forward for fear of reprisals.
Although the Burundian Government has taken some measures to find Ernest Manirumva’s killers - it has set up a commission of inquiry and has placed nine suspects, including several policemen, in detention on remand - no report has yet been published on the investigation and no trial date has been set.