‘Near-complete impunity’ enjoyed by those responsible for rights violations in Burundi

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Fatsah Ouguergouz (Chair), Reine Alapini Gansou and Françoise Hampson, members of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Burundi presented their first oral briefing to the Council, during which the experts expressed concern at “the scale and gravity of the human rights violations and abuses that have been brought to our attention.”

On the basis of a first series of interviews held with a range of sources, they said the trends observed in 2015 and 2016 appear to be continuing, including persistent allegations of violations of the right to life and physical integrity, notably an increase in enforced disappearances. Arrests, particularly of people suspected of participating in opposition groups, continue to be reported, as do allegations of torture.

The exercise of some civil liberties continues to be obstructed, especially following the adoption of restrictive new laws on non-governmental organizations. Most journalists, members of civil society and opposition parties who had fled in 2015 are still in exile, they added, also drawing attention to the practices of extortion and ransom, which appear to have increased following a weakening of the rule of law in the country.

“We are particularly concerned by the near-complete impunity enjoyed by those responsible for these violations. Even when victims or witnesses are able to identify suspected perpetrators, cases of prosecution of State agents, or those who appear to have their support, are rare,” they stated and reiterated their call to the Burundi Government to cooperate with the Commission.

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