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UN rights body should urgently create commission of inquiry on Burundi

Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on Burundi

Human Rights Watch welcomes the report of the United Nations Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB).

Unfortunately, since the Council last discussed Burundi, serious human rights abuses have continued unabated. We continue to document how state agents and youths of the ruling party kill, abduct, forcibly disappear, arrest or torture anyone suspected of sympathizing with the opposition. Armed opposition groups have also launched attacks and killed members of the ruling party. The report of the UN Independent Investigation on Burundi, published on 20 September, found that the experts could not exclude that “some instances of these gross human rights violations amount to crimes against humanity.”

The Burundian government denies that state agents are responsible for grave human rights violations, and has become more brutal and secretive, attempting to conceal many abuses. The national justice system is heavily influenced by the ruling party and has been unable to deliver credible justice for these crimes. The government’s blatant disregard for human rights was further illustrated by the failure of its delegation to answer questions by the Committee against Torture in July.

Monitoring and documenting human rights abuses remains of the utmost importance, but the escalation in abuses over the last year and a half shows that something more is needed. Now that the team of independent experts has completed its mandate, it is vital to deepen their work and take it to the next level, without a prolonged gap.

In line with the recommendation of the experts, we urge the Council to immediately create, at this session, a Commission of Inquiry or similar accountability mechanism on Burundi to establish responsibility for the most serious crimes committed in the country since April 2015, building on the work of the Independent Investigation and of UN and African Union teams on the ground. The Council should also heed the recommendation of the experts and hold a discussion to consider whether Burundi can remain a member of the Council.

The situation in Burundi will not improve in a significant or lasting way until there is an end to the impunity that lies at the heart of the crisis in Burundi.

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