A court in Burundi has charged 24 people for "homosexual practices" as authorities in the conservative East African nation crack down on same-sex relationships,” an anonymous judicial source told AFP on Thursday.
Burundi has criminalised homosexuality since 2009 with a prison sentence of up to two years if found guilty.
Burundian police arrested 17 men and seven women on February 23 ,2023, at a seminar in the country’s political capital Gitega hosted by MUCO Burundi, a non-profit organisation that focuses on HIV/Aids. This was after neighbours alerted the security officials to their presence.
Found with condoms
Police said that the accused were found with condoms and on suspicion of homosexual practices.
"After interrogations which lasted about ten days, the 24 were charged with homosexual practices and incitement by the public prosecutor," Armel Niyongere, head of the human rights group ACAT Burundi, said late Wednesday.
Niyongere, currently in exile in Belgium, said they would be remanded in prison to await trial.
Earlier this month, Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye urged the country’s citizens to root out homosexuality.
"I ask all Burundians to curse those who indulge in homosexuality because God cannot bear it. They must be banished and treated as outsiders in our country," Ndayishimiye said in a speech.
Last month Burundian intelligence agents arrested five human rights activists, who were later charged with rebellion and undermining the country’s state security.