Burundi: UNIIB accuses Bujumbura of serious violations

Bujumbura (Burundi) – The conclusions of the United Nations Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB) published on Tuesday 20 September, stimulated much attention. The report accuses Bujumbura of grave human rights violations. The UNIIB report considers that these violations can be qualified as crimes against humanity and warns against a probable genocide.

 This report is about violations and abuses of human rights committed from 15 April 2015 to 30 June 2016. Experts delegated by the UN visited Burundi from 1 to 8 March and from 13 to 17 June 2016. They were able to make a total of 227 interviews in the provinces of Bujumbura, Makamba and Gitega as well as in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda with, among others, 182 refugees.

The report documented 564 cases of summary executions, assassinations, arbitrary detentions, torture and sexual violence. The group of experts who conducted this investigation accused Burundian authorities of serious human rights violations. The report points an accusing finger at security forces, often with the support of the youth movement of the ruling party, the Imbonerakure. According to the report, the victims of such acts of violence would be citizens opposed to the third term of President Pierre Nkurunziza. It indicates that people were kidnapped and held in places officially unknown like bars, residences of personalities from the party in power or the office of the ruling party CNDD-FDD. The investigation reveals 17 forms of torture and ill-treatment, including the fixing of weight to the testicles of the victim, crushing the fingers and toes with pliers, progressive burning on blowtorch or being forced to sit in acid, on broken glasses or nails.

Crimes against humanity or genocide?

Investigators indicate that some of these serious violations constitute crimes against humanity, and require independent international judicial proceedings to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice. “Given the history of the country, the danger of a genocidal crime is great, “say the UN investigators.

The report also highlights the muzzling of journalists, members of civil society organizations and defenders of human rights. According to these investigators, their conclusions want to bring the government of Burundi, the African Union, the UN Council of Human Rights, the Security Council and other international actors to adopt strong measures to preserve the achievements of the Arusha Agreement which allowed Burundi to experience a long period of peace. These include the immediate establishment of an international commission of inquiry and the reviewing of the membership of Burundi to the Council of Human Rights.

Since the creation of the Council 10 years ago, this is the first time that a UN organization proposes to exclude a member of the Council. The report also proposes a possible invocation of Chapter VII of the Charter of Nations, if the violations persist, and if the government continues not to comply with resolution 2303 of the Security Council, authorizing the deployment of a UN police force. The UN investigators finally ask the African Union and the UN for a gradual withdrawal of Burundian troops from peacekeeping missions, if the situation goes on.

Continue reading on Iwacu (Burundi)

By Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana