Serious human rights violations, including some which constitute crimes against humanity, have continued to be committed in Burundi, in 2017 and 2018, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Burundi said in a report today.
Many Burundians fled their country in 2015 following violence triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term which won later.
In its report, the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi describes summary executions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, sexual violence and forced disappearances.
The Commission is also concerned with the shrinking democratic space in Burundi as well as the growing impoverishment of the population.
“The violations that the Commission documented in its first report have persisted throughout the past year. Some practices, such as the disposal of bodies or operating at night, tend to make these violations less visible,” Doudou Diène, the President of the Commission of Inquiry said.
“The Constitutional Referendum organized in May 2018 and the campaign for the upcoming elections in 2020 have resulted in persecution, threats and intimidation towards persons suspected of opposing the government or not sharing the ruling party’s line, whether proven or not.”
The findings of the Commission are based on approximately 900 statements of victims of human rights violations, witnesses and alleged perpetrators of such acts, including 400 statements collected this past year.
This year, the government has once again refused any dialogue and cooperation with the Commission of Inquiry, despite repeated requests and initiatives from the Commission.
“The members of the youth league of the ruling party, the Imbonerakure, have become increasingly important in the repression, outside any legal framework and with near total impunity,” the report said.
Commission encourages the Government of Burundi to “engage in a comprehensive reform of the judicial system, in order to guarantee its independence, impartiality and its effectiveness”, as well as reforming the security sector, responsible for numerous human rights violations.
The Commission of Inquiry on Burundi further requests that the United Nations Human Rights council extend its mandate for an additional year. “Our Commission is currently the only international mechanism investigating independently and impartially human rights violations and abuses committed in Burundi and identifying their alleged perpetrators,” stated Doudou Diène. “It is all the more crucial to continue this work as Burundi is preparing for new elections in 2020, which have already resulted in human rights violations and abuse.”