The UN Commission of Inquiry released a report on Monday (September 4th). It requests the International Criminal Court to investigate crimes against humanity committed in Burundi.
The Commission refers to "an organized plan in the pursuit of a common policy." This is a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population. This suggests that crimes against humanity have been committed in Burundi since April 2015. The commission's report mentions extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and sexual violence. The list of abuses is long.
According to the commission, "major decisions, including those leading to serious violations of human rights, would be taken not by the government but by the President of the Republic and a handful of generals."
The president of the commission, Fatsah Ouguergouz, also targets officials at the highest level of the state, senior officers and agents of the defense and security forces as well as the youth of the ruling party Cndd-Fdd, the Imbonerakure. According to him, these alleged perpetrators are aware of this plan, given their functions in the state security apparatus or their indoctrination within Cndd-Fdd. Targets were especially members of Msd and Fnl parties as well as soldiers of the former army Ex FAB.
Bujumbura dismisses a "biased" report
In order to reach the conclusions of its report, the commission visited Burundi's neighboring countries. More than 500 interviews were conducted. However, it calls for more cooperation so far refused by the government.
Among the recommendations of the commission are individual sanctions against the main perpetrators presumed by the Security Council. To this end, the commission produced a secret and non-exhaustive list of these suspects which will be confided to the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The International Criminal Court is called on to launch an investigation into the crimes committed in Burundi since April 2015, a date that marks the start of protests against the candidacy of President Nkurunziza.
The failed coup as well as the attacks on four military camps are decisive factors in the escalation of violence in 2015.
The Burundian government rejected this report. The Minister of Human Rights, Martin Nivyabandi spoke of a biased report that does not take into account the obvious improvement in the country's situation. The Minister of Justice, Aimé-Laurentine Kanyana, said the ICC cannot do anything better than the Burundian jurisdiction. The National Assembly, for its part, decided to set up a commission to investigate the allegations in the report.
In any case, if the prosecution is to take place, the ICC has only one month to get started. Burundi withdrew from the International Criminal Court on 27 October 2016. Its final withdrawal will take place on 27 October.
Willy Nyamitwe: "Mercenaries paid to validate a narrative."
The Senior Adviser to the President says the report's producers are not investigators but mercenaries paid to validate a narrative that's already circulating in some Western reports. According to Willy Nyamitwe, these reports aim to pave the way for the ICC, an instrument in the hands of the West to enslave African states.
François Nyamoya: " MSD party is confident that justice will be done. "
For the Movement for Solidarity and Democracy- MSD, the report confirms what was known to the public. The members of Msd are very numerous among the victims of the abuses committed by the regime in place. François Nyamoya, Secretary-General of the party, said that the MSD is confident that justice will be done.
Cndd-Fdd party: "The aim of the report is to get the ICC started."
The National Information Secretary of the ruling party CNDD-FDD says the report largely copies and pastes the conclusions of the report of the UN independent investigation on Burundi (EINUB), criticized for its imperfections.
According to Nancy Ninette Mutoni, this new commission of inquiry was set up on the basis of a resolution issued by the European Union diktat. "This report should not impress or surprise anyone. Its objective is to get the ICC started and you know what it is in relation to Africa: a rather political instrument than a juridical one", she said.
Armel Niyongere: "Torturers are paper tigers."
This lawyer of the families of victims who have gone to the ICC says there are still more witnesses waiting to collaborate with the judiciary. "This report shows that torturers are paper tigers when faced with determined and organized victims."The collective of civil parties "Justice for Burundi", of which Armel Niyongere is a member, places all its hopes in the opening of the investigations by the International Criminal Court. "We believe that the work of justice will contribute to the pacification of the region to avoid further massacres."
Amnesty International: "The commission's term should be renewed."
This organization indicates that a serious violation of human rights persists in a more hidden but equally brutal way. Amnesty International says the work of the Commission of Inquiry is more necessary than ever. "Its term should be renewed by the Human Rights Council at its next session in September", says Amnesty International.
Human Rights Watch: "Cooperating is not an option."
John Fisher, the advocacy director for the organization at Geneva, said that Burundi's flagrant refusal to cooperate was a sign of its contempt for the commission. "That's enough. "He said the Human Rights Council should renew the mandate of the commission. The General Assembly, for its part, should reconsider the membership of Burundi in that body. "Cooperating is not an option but a condition to be respected. There should be consequences for persistent non-compliance. "
Written by Agnès Ndirubusa and translated by Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana