Human Right

Lawyers of victims offer to collaborate with UN Commission of Inquiry

Armel Niyongere: “The association will continue to collaborate with the ICC Prosecutor office and the UN experts”

Armel Niyongere: “The association will continue to collaborate with the ICC Prosecutor office and the UN experts”

The association of lawyers defending the victims of the 2015 crisis and their clients say they are willing to collaborate with the UN commission of inquiry composed of three experts. The inquiry aims to identify the perpetrators and accomplices of crimes committed in Burundi under ICC jurisdiction. “The association will continue to collaborate with the ICC Prosecutor office and the UN experts until they are presumed innocent”, says Armel Niyongere, one of the lawyers.

In a statement issued on 6 December, the association of lawyers offers to collaborate with both the office of the ICC prosecutor and the UN committee of experts, unlike the Burundi authorities.

The victims and their families shall testify under the protection conditions which must be assured by the above international organizations.

“Executed, abandoned, their fingers cuts, sexually abused, buried in mass graves, burnt…, victims simply want perpetrators and accomplices to be held accountable for their crimes before courts and tribunals with all the guarantees of an impartial trial. They have to benefit from the presumption of innocence until the end of their trial”, says the statement. The association of lawyers says the fight involves sacrifices and is unstoppable.

The association has already received 200 cases from the victims to be taken to the ICC. In October 2016, Burundi withdrew from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

To date, UN reports say hundreds of people have been killed, more than 250,000 have fled the nation, and thousands more have been arrested and possibly subjected to human rights violations.

On 26 November 2016, Burundi Home Affairs Ministry organized a public demonstration in the Burundian capital to protest against the deployment of the three commissioners of inquiry on the human rights situation in Burundi, recently appointed by the UN Human Rights Commission

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