On 20 December, Tony Germain Nkina, a lawyer and former employee of a leading Burundian human rights organization, was acquitted of all charges by the appeal court of Ngozi. The lawyer and human rights activist had been arrested on 13 October 2020 and accused of collaborating with rebel movements. Human Rights Watch noted that it was “a rare instance of judicial independence in Burundi.” Even though the prosecutor first chose not to sign the release order and intended to file an appeal to the Supreme Court, Mr Nkina was freed from prison on 27 December. The case was then sent back to the Ngozi Court of Appeal, which cleared him at the end of 2022.
With the support of the country’s parliament, Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye sacked his Prime Minister, Alain Bunyoni, and cabinet chief, General Gabriel Nizigama, after alleging a coup plot by unnamed individuals. Fifty-four provincial police commissioners were also sacked or redeployed. It was reported that all those who were purged were loyalists of Ndayishimiye’s deceased predecessor, Pierre Nkurunziza, with Bunyoni having served as Nkurunziza’s police chief. Ndayishimiye’s relationship with Bunyoni had grown increasingly acrimonious in recent months, with some commentators attributing this to the fact that the Prime Minister’s business activities have been targeted as part of the President’s anti-corruption campaign. Burundi’s security agencies have a long history of involvement in the country’s politics, which has experienced numerous coups and coup attempts, including a coup attempt in 2015. Commentators have suggested that the purge is unlikely to end tensions between the President and powerful securocrats.
Burundi’s President, Évariste Ndayishimiye, issued a presidential decree dismissing 40 magistrates for “corruption” and “mismanagement”. According to the decree, the magistrates, who are from the higher and lower courts, are to receive prison sentences ranging from 1 to 30 years in length. These are the first magistrates to be dismissed by Ndayishimiye as part of his anti-corruption drive. In September 2021 the United Nation's Commission of Inquiry on Burundi identified judicial corruption as a prevalent issue but criticized the measures taken by Ndayishimiye’s government to tackle it, stating that they were aimed at strengthening executive control over the judiciary and were likely to be counterproductive.