30 September 2017

Africa: Killings Still Rife in Burundi but African States Oppose ICC 'Help'

Photo: ISS Africa
(File photo).

Since July 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a controversial presidential third term, brutal killings of leaders and civilians have continued unabated.

Despite the country gaining relative stability, targeted killings by "unknown" criminals continue to be reported countrywide according to the government.

For the past three months, more than 20 people have been killed in grenade attacks in public places, homes and bodies have been found dumped on the streets with tell tale signs of torture.

The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Burundi recently called on the International Criminal Court to open an inquiry into the alleged human rights abuses made in the country since 2015.

The call came after the Commission released a report indicating increased violations of human rights in the country.

However, last week, African countries launched an initiative at the United Nations blocking the International Criminal Court from investigating possible human rights violations in the country.

The countries, instead developed a resolution that praised Burundi for wishing to engage in dialogue and co-operate with the UN on the same.

Government officials and some opposition members have been victims of the targeted attacks and forced disappearances in the country.

Earlier this month four people were shot dead by unknown armed group in a Bujumbura neighbourhood while brewing illicit alcohol.

"Some of these criminals have been arrested and some attacks are not politically motivated but we are waiting for the investigations to be concluded for us to know the reasons behind them," said Burundi police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye.

"Any person who commits a crime in Burundi is punished, and this shows that this is not true. We have seen many crimes that were committed by insurgents and the Burundi police and they were punished," said the Burundi Justice Minister Laurentine Kanyana.

According to the government, more than 500 people have been killed since 2015, when the political crisis erupted and which led to hundreds of thousands civilians fleeing the country.

"In general, impunity still prevails in Burundi," said Burundi opposition leader and the deputy speaker of parliament Agathon Rwasa.

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