UN: Widespread Violations in Burundi May Amount to Crimes Against Humanity

The Commission of Inquiry on Burundi accused the country of persistent and widespread violations of human rights, some of which it says constitute crimes against humanity.

The Commission presented its final report on the situation in Burundi to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. It says violations � which include extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, torture, and sexual violence � are used by the government and its allies to bend the Burundian people to its will.

The Commission accuses members of the National Intelligence Service, including senior officials and the police, of serious violations. It also expresses concern about the growing role played by the youth militia, the Imbonerakure, in controlling the population.

Commission member Francoise Hampson says the Burundian state is to blame for the wrongful acts committed by the Imbonerakure, since it exercises overall effective control.

"The climate of disregard for human rights in Burundi continues to be fomented by repeated calls for hatred and violence by authorities, including the head of state and by an overall context of impunity," she said. "The judiciary in Burundi is not independent, and has not been so for several years."

The government of Burundi has refused to cooperate with the Commission, declaring its members persona non grata. The Commission has collected more than 400 testimonial accounts from victims and witnesses in neighboring countries, as well as remotely from Burundians residing in the country.

The Commission is appealing to the U.N. Council to renew its mandate for one more year, especially in light of the preparation for the 2020 elections. It notes the number of serious human rights violations that occurred in 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for and won a controversial third term.

Burundi's Ambassador to the U.N. Renovat Tabu rejected the report, calling it false, politically motivated, insulting and derogatory. He says the report is scandalous and a flagrant violation of Burundi's sovereignty.

Source: Voice of America