4 September 2017

Burundi: Commission of Inquiry Urges ICC to Investigate Crimes Against Humanity

Photo: © 2016 Privé
Illustration of torture in Burundi

The UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi believes that crimes against humanity have been and continue to be committed in Burundi since April 2015. Following the report published last Monday, the commission reported that those crimes are taking place in a context of serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, sexual violence, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and enforced disappearances.

Fatsah Ouguergouz, chairperson of the commission said that among the perpetrators include high level officials from the National Intelligence Service and the national police force, military officials, and members of the youth league of the ruling party-Imbonerakure. "We were struck by the scale and the brutality of the violations. We fear that the crimes will remain unpunished", he says.

The commission of Inquiry accused the Burundian authorities of being unwilling to fight against impunity and guarantee the independence of the judiciary.

The commission reported to have gathered, in difficult situations, about 500 testimonies including many Burundians living abroad as refugees and those who remain in the country.

The chairman of the commission also confirmed that the human rights violations continue to be committed in Burundi.

"We continue to receive reliable, credible and consistent information confirming that these violations are still taking place in Burundi today", says Ouguergouz.

The Commission calls on Burundian authorities to immediately put an end to the serious human rights violations. It also demands ICC to open an investigations into the crimes committed in Burundi as soon as possible.


 Willy Nyamitwe, Senior advisor in charge of Media, Information and communication to the President refutes the UN experts. "These people act as mercenaries used and paid by the west for political motives", he said in his tweet.

 Lambert Nigarura, Chairman of the Burundi coalition for the ICC, says the report of the UN commission is complete as it largely reveals crimes committed by different people including the members of the security forces and the ruling party youth-Imbonerakure. "The UN report showed its techniques to reveal the truth. Then, it is high time the ICC opened investigations into crimes committed in Burundi", he says. For him, the perpetrators will be punished and the victims compensated given that the UN commission will present its final report with credible evidence.

The Commission of Inquiry will present its final report to the Human Rights Council during an interactive dialogue on Burundi on 18 and 19 September 2017. Meanwhile, the UN report on human rights raised controversy among MPs last week when some MPs supported its contents while others dismissed the allegations it contains.

In April 2016, the ICC prosecutor opened a preliminary inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated in Burundi from April 2015. Burundi withdrew from the ICC in October 2016. The government also suspended its collaboration with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in response to a UN report that accused the government of grave human rights violations

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