Burundi: Grave Human Rights Abuses Escalate in Burundi

Protesters raise their hands in front of police in a protest in Bujumbura. (file photo)

Bujumbura — BURUNDI'S government is accused of summary executions, unlawful arrests, torture and sexual violations, among other crimes against humanity over the past year.

The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on the country has also established forced disappearances in 2017 and 2018 amid shrinking democratic space as well as the growing impoverishment of the population.

Doudou Diène, the President of the Commission of Inquiry, said the violations persisted but some practices, such as the disposal of bodies or operating at night, tend to make these infringements less visible.

"Nevertheless, they are still real," Diène said.

The envoy said the constitutional referendum organised in May 2018 and the campaign for the upcoming elections in 2020 have resulted in persecution, threats and intimidation towards people suspected of opposing the government or not sharing the ruling party's line.

President Pierre Nkurunziza is among figures perpetrating hate speech against critics but members of the youth league of the ruling party, the Imbonerakure, have become increasingly important in the repression.

The youth often operate alongside or collaborate with the Police and the National Intelligence Services, which remain the state organs most involved in the serious human rights violations committed in Burundi.

The judiciary has also become an instrument of repression used by the executive against any form of protest or opposition.

A political crisis has plagued Burundi since 2015 when Nkurunziza, in power since 2005, forced a third term.

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