Burundi: reprisals, torture, incitement to hatred and continued refusal to admit monitoring

August 29, 2016

The situation in Burundi continues to be marred by instability and reports of serious human rights violations, including allegations of extra-judicial killings, disappearances, torture, and arbitrary detention of members of the opposition, civil society and those suspected of opposing the Government. Human rights defenders and journalists are among the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled the country since April 2015. I have written quite a bit about Burundi where all early warning signs of violence and ethnic cleansing are present [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/burundi-what-more-early-warning-does-one-needhttps://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/what-is-burundi-doing-in-the-un-human-rights-council/]. And the situation continues:

  • The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) issued a wake-up call to Burundi said Amnesty International on 12 August 2016 after the Committee flagged an increase in the use of torture and other ill-treatment since the beginning of the country’s current crisis in April 2015. In its concluding observations the Committee’s 10 independent international experts expressed deep concern over hundreds of cases of torture alleged to have taken place in recent months in both official and unofficial places of detention.
  • On 8 August 2016 the CAT had already issued a report that it was gravely concerned by reports that four Burundian lawyers who provided information to it are being subjected to reprisalsIn a press statement issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Committee said the four lawyers – Armel Niyongere, Lambert Nigarura, Dieudonné Bashirahishize and Vital Nshimirimana – had contributed to an alternative report by a coalition of Burundian non-governmental organizations for the its review, and three were present at the review in Geneva on 28 and 29 July. According to the Committee, on 29 July, a Burundian prosecutor asked the President of the Bujumbura Bar Council to strike the lawyers off the professional register, alleging that they had committed several offences, including involvement in an insurrectionist movement and an attempted coup. The Committee’s letter, signed by Chair Jens Modvig and Rapporteur on Reprisals Alessio Bruni, notes that the prosecutor requested sanctions against the lawyers, rather than an inquiry to establish the facts, “which raises concerns with respect to presumption of innocence.” It goes on to state that this concern “is all the stronger given that the (prosecutor’s) request came on the same day that the Burundian delegation, presided over by the Minister of Justice, indicated they would not be participating in the second session of dialogue with the Committee, citing the alternative report by Burundian civil society in particular as the reason.” [Mr. Modvig and Mr. Bruni also point out that the Committee raised the issue of reprisals after the last regular review of Burundi in 2014. They reminded the Burundian Government that reprisals contravene Article 13 of the Convention against Torture, to which the country has been a party since 1993. Article 13 states that complainants and witnesses should be protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of making a complaint or giving evidence.]
  • Finally on 16 August the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, expressed his concern at inflammatory statements by public officials that could constitute incitement to violence including, most recently, by a senior official of the ruling CNDD-FDD political party. In a statement on 16 August 2016 that was published on the CNDD-FDD website, Pascal Nyabenda, who was at the time President of the CNDD-FDD party and President of the National Assembly, suggested that the genocide in Rwanda was a fabrication of the international community, (“montages genocidaires contre le Gouvernement dit Hutu de Kigali”) that was used to remove the Hutu government that was in place at the time.   “This irresponsible statement could be interpreted as genocide denial”, Mr. Dieng said, “and has the potential to inflame ethnic tensions, both within Burundi and outside its borders”.  At the 20 August meeting of the party, a new head of the CNDD-FDD was appointed but Mr. Nyabenda continues in his role as President of the National Assembly. Special Adviser Dieng also raised concern that the youth wing of the CNDD-FDD party, known as the Imbonerakure, continues to be associated with human rights abuses and is reported to have threatened ethnic violence. He noted that the Minister of the Interior of Burundi had confirmed that the Imbonakure formed part of the national security strategy, as the CAT also pointed out in its concluding observations.
  • To make things even worse Burundi has rejected in early August the deployment of a United Nations police force saying the France-drafted resolution authorizing the security contingent was made without Bujumbura’s consent. “The government of Burundi rejects every aspect of this resolution linked to the deployment of any force on its territory,” spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba said in a statement released on Tuesday, adding that the resolution was “in violation of the fundamental principles required of the UN family and above all violating its sovereignty.” The response came after the UN Security Council authorized to dispatch of up to 228 officers to Bujumbura and elsewhere throughout the west African country for an initial period of one year, in an attempt to provide the council, according to French Ambassador Francois Delattre, with “eyes and ears” on the ground to provide early warning of possible mass atrocities. The planned deployment of the contingent has aroused fury from the country’s authorities, who initially agreed to accept no more than 50 officers The country’s authorities initially agreed to accept no more than 50 officers, but now infuriated by the UN planned deployment of 228-strong contingent, have rejected even the 50-strong security force.
  • An overview of FIDH actions concerning Burundi in 2015/16: https://www.fidh.org/en/region/Africa/burundi/burundi-one-year-of-bloody-crisis

http://allafrica.com/stories/201608270196.html

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=54640#.V8Pm3IRptgc

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/08/burundi-un-findings-must-be-a-wake-up-call-on-torture/

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/08/03/478262/Burundi-UNSC-UN-Nkurunziza-police-France

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: