Human Right

Rights Groups urge ICC to begin full investigation into human rights violations in Burundi

Nine local human rights organisations urge the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to begin full investigation into gross human rights violations in Burundi to bring perpetrators to justice.

According to local human rights organisations, more than 1 200 people have been unlawfully killed from 2015.

According to local human rights organisations, more than 1 200 people have been unlawfully killed from 2015.

Nine local rights groups urge the ICC prosecutor to start full investigation into grave crimes committed in Burundi as soon as possible.

The ICC prosecutor should “promptly start full investigation and issue arrest warrants against those who are responsible for the crimes”, says Lambert Nigarura, an exiled human rights activist speaking for nine rights groups that teamed up to make the call to the ICC prosecutor.

The NGOs, all of which have been banned or suspended by the government, claim that there are crimes against humanity that have been and are still being committed in Burundi, and which the ICC is competent to deal with.

The human rights violations, which have also been reported by UN investigations and other international organisations like FIDH and Human Rights Watch, include among others extra judiciary assassinations, torture, rape, forced disappearances and arbitrary arrests.

The reports blame the crimes mainly on government armed bodies and the Imbonerakure youth “militia” of the Cndd-Fdd ruling party.

The government has always rejected the reports saying they are “politically motivated”, “biased” and intended to destabilize the country.

Burundi no more member of ICC

Over the last two years, gross human rights violations have been reported amid and in the aftermath of the violence triggered by the announcement of President Nkurunziza’s candidacy for a third term in office.

Opponents, who claimed the bid violated the constitutional two-term limit, organised a mass protest from April 2015 that culminated in a failed coup attempt in May of the same year.

Ligue Iteka, one of the nine human rights groups, says the surrounding violence had resulted, by 9 June of this, in the death of at least 1291 people and 437 others who were victims of enforced disappearance.

CNIDH, a government-mandated human rights commission, has recently said from 2016 to June 2017, 340 people had been unlawfully killed, 68 tortured, while 788 were illegally detained.

The ICC prosecutor has launched preliminary investigations into rights violations in Burundi from April 2016. In October, Burundi Parliament voted for the withdrawal from the ICC.

The government said it sought to preserve its sovereignty that was threatened by the ICC, a court that “has become an instrument of pressure on poor countries by powerful ones” according to the Minister of Justice, Aimée Laurentine Kanyana.

The government also suspended its collaboration with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as a response to a UN Independent Investigation Report on Burundi (UNIIB) that accused the government of grave human rights violations.

Meanwhile, ‘Justice for Burundi’, a collective of lawyers who teamed up to defend victims of rights violations from 2015, have filed around 800 complaints to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.