Human Right

« No International crimes committed in Burundi », National Human Rights Commission says

No international crimes were committed in Burundi between 2015 and 2017, according to an announcement on Friday by the chairman of the National Commission for Human Rights, CNDIH. The announcement comes just weeks after the allegedly independent commission announced that it had recorded 340 unlawful killings, over 100 disappearances, 68 torture cases and 788 arbitrary arrests between January 2016 and June 2017.

Jean Baptiste Baribonekeza calls the ICC to end with the preliminary exams on Burundi

Jean Baptiste Baribonekeza calls the ICC to end with the preliminary exams on Burundi

“The allegations that international crimes were committed between 2015 and 2017 are not true”, said Jean Baptiste Baribonekeza, chairman of the National Commission for the Human Rights (CNDIH).

The ICC prosecutor opened a preliminary inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated in Burundi in April 2015. Burundi withdrew from the ICC in October 2016, but its withdrawal has no impact on ongoing investigations. The government has also suspended its collaboration with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in response to a UN report that accused the government of grave human rights violations.

Baribonekeza claimed that the national judicial system is sufficiently equipped to deal with the current situation in Burundi and that out legal intervention, for example from the ICC, is not necessary. “The Burundi judicial system has undergone major reforms such as the revolutionary criminal code. We encourage it to assume its responsibilities”, he said.

Lambert Nigarura, chairman of the Burundian Coalition for the ICC and one of the lawyers in the collective Justice for Burundi, which defends victims of the human rights violations committed since 2015, condemned the announcement by the Human Rights Commission. “The Burundi judicial system has never summoned to court anyone involved in committing atrocities in Burundi”, says Nigarura. He says that the ICC prosecutor should promptly start a full investigation and issue arrest warrants for those who are responsible for the crimes. But he says that the CNDIH chairman seems to prefer impunity. Justice for Burundi has filed around 800 complaints to the chief prosecutor of the ICC since the crisis began.

Human rights activists say more than 2,000 people have been killed since April 2015, more than 8,000 imprisoned and thousands more have been forced into exile fearing for their security. UNHCR recently reported that since April 2015, some 410,000 refugees and asylum seekers have been forced to flee their homes.