Background Briefing

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To the government of Burundi

  • Ensure a prompt and thorough investigation of the Gatumba massacre and of the failure of Burundian military forces to come to the assistance of the refugees.  Make public the results of the inquiry.
  • Assist investigators designated by the United Nations Security Council to investigate this case.
  • Complete procedures for joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) without requesting the seven-year exemption for war crimes possible under article 124 of the statute of the court.
  • Request the ICC prosecutor to investigate the Gatumba massacre in accord with article 12(3) of the ICC statute.  Should the ICC not proceed with prosecutions related to the case, ensure that any persons accused of this crime be brought to trial in Burundian courts according to international standards of due process.
  • Ensure that all refugee camps are located sufficiently distant from the borders of the refugees’ country of origin to ensure their security from cross-border attacks.
  • Ensure that refugees are effectively protected twenty-four hours a day.

To the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Ensure prompt completion of a thorough investigation of any participation by Congolese citizens and particularly by any members of the Congolese armed forces in the Gatumba massacre. Ensure that any persons accused of this crime be brought to trial according to international standards of due process.           

To the FNL and other armed movements in Burundi and the DRC

  • Take all necessary steps to ensure combatants under your control comply with international humanitarian law and hold accountable those who fail to do so.


To the United Nations Security Council:

  • Carry out further investigations of the Gatumba massacre to supplement the preliminary inquiry done at your request, either by establishing an international panel of inquiry or by referring the case to another appropriate international mechanism.
  • Encourage troop-contributing nations to speed provision of fully staffed and equipped forces to the United Nations Operations in Burundi (ONUB).
  • Support fully an effective human rights unit within ONUB and direct this unit to publish prompt and complete reports of its investigations.


To United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR):

  • Follow strictly the UNHCR policy of placing refugee camps distant from borders of the country from which refugees have come and use public and diplomatic pressure to move resistant governments towards compliance with this policy.
  • Insist that governments fulfill their responsibilities to assure the security of refugees, using any needed public and diplomatic pressure to achieve that end. Insist that governments establish a reliable system of immediately alerting UNHCR personnel of any threat to refugee camps.


To donor governments and governments in the region:

  • Insist that states prosecute those responsible for the Gatumba massacre and other grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Burundi, or assist the International Criminal Court or the Burundian government in its prosecutions.

<<previous  |  index  |  next>>September 2004