11 September 2017

Burundi: National Commission for Human Rights Calls On ICC to Be Impartial

Photo: HCR/Kate Holt
Dispaced people (file photo).

The National Commission for Human Rights [CNIDH] notes that the report of the Commission of Inquiry was inspired by some of the previous reports but somewhat different from the latter. "The CNIDH considers that the report should constitute a breach of a frank and constructive dialogue on the situation of human rights in Burundi", says Jean Baptiste Baribonekeza, the chairman of the CNIDH.

He says the commission of inquiry refused to examine and provide detailed information on violations and abuses committed by "armed opposition groups". "It is surprising that the experts have not been able to access information that is detained by the public, in particular concerning attacks on grenades in public places which have been claimed by some politicians", he says.

Jean Baptiste Baribonekeza says the commission of Inquiry on Burundi seems to ignore the principles of complementarity and subsidiarity that govern the international criminal justice by hastily proposing radical measures so as to prematurely push the ICC to conduct investigations without overwhelming evidence.

The National Commission for Human Rights, then, recommends the ICC not be influenced by political motivations whose aim is not to fight independently and impartially against crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC. He also urges the ICC to conclude the preliminary exams initiated since 25 April 2016 on the situation in Burundi. "It is high time to allow the Burundian judiciary system to deal with all complaints concerning crimes that have been committed in Burundi", says Baribonekeza.

The chairman of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi Fatsah Ouguergouz said crimes against humanity have been and continue to be committed in Burundi since April 2015.

Serious human rights violations including extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, sexual violence, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment as well as enforced disappearances have been reported by the UN experts. Fatsah Ouguergouz said the investigators believed that "there was reasonable evidence to believe that the majority of these serious human rights violations committed constitute crimes against humanity. The Commission of Inquiry urged the ICC to open investigations on possible crimes committed in Burundi since April 2015.

The African Union opposed the call made by the commission. Smail Chergui, the chairman of the African Union Peace and Security Council said Africa has its own Court that deals with African cases.

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