Burundi: Disturbing impunity for the systematic use of torture by Intelligence, Police and militias

During its 78th session on 31st October and 1st November 2023, the CAT examined Burundi’s third periodic report. The country’s rapporteurs were Mr. Sébastien Touzé and Mr. Abderrazak Rouwane.

The delegation was led by Ms. Imelde Subashimike, Minister of National Solidarity, Social Affairs, Human Rights and Gender.

The CAT experts commended Burundi’s gradual return to dialogue with the UN institutions, after its refusal to cooperate since 2016.

Main issues discussed:

The experts considered the human rights situation largely unchanged for 7 years, and expressed deep concern about the numerous cases of arbitrary arrests and detentions, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, and the systematic use of torture by the Police, the National Intelligence Sevice (SNR) and the Imbonerakure. The experts regretted the absence of judicial control and the scarcity of investigations and prosecutions regarding the proven responsibility of State agents.

The Committee’s concerns also related to the poor material conditions of detention and overcrowding in prisons, the unreasonable length of pretrial detention, the persisting practice of secret detention and the absence of transparentaccess of observers to prisons.

The experts found the crackdown of civil society particularly alarming, as many human rights defenders have been killed, arbitrarily arrested, disappeared, and systematically detained, threatened, and forced into exile. This situation persists, with many defenders remaining in exile or illegally detained.

The Committee is further concerned about the numerous and consistent allegations of sexual violence against women and girls, including gang rape, perpetrated as a means of intimidation and political repression. Very few victims have access to effective remedies, reparation and rehabilitation and such acts are committed with almost complete impunity.

The CAT’s recommendations are available here.

Follow-up recommendations:

The State party should provide information by 24 November 2024 on the implementation of recommendations regarding:

  • The investigation and prosecution of all allegations of serious human rights violations, especially the extrajudicial killings and murder of political opponents.
  • - The investigation and prosecution of all allegations of torture and ill-treatments, and the conviction of perpetrators.
  • - The measures taken to ensure that all cases of enforced disappearances are thoroughly and impartially investigated, and that perpetrators are prosecuted and convicted.
  • - The measures taken to protect civil society, to promote their dialogue with UN institutions and to prevent reprisals.

Watch here (part one and part two) the dialogue of the Burundian Delegation with the CAT.

Read our alternative report submitted with a coalition of INGOs and Burundian NGOs to the CAT.

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