Burundi–Human Rights Council–Political-Based Violence–June 2017

The Advocates for Human Rights submitted a stakeholder report on political-based violence in Burundi to the U.N. Human Rights Council for Burundi’s third Universal Periodic Review.

Political-based violence remains a widespread problem in Burundi. Despite a decline in overt violence and fewer incidents of armed confrontation, reports of human rights violations targeting the ruling party’s perceived political opponents persist. These violations include extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest and detention, and torture and ill-treatment. The Government increasingly restricts freedom of expression and association, including by adopting new legislation controlling the operations of non-governmental organizations. Further, the Burundian Government fails to prosecute those affiliated with the ruling party for human rights violations, fostering a state of impunity.

Since the country’s second Universal Periodic Review in 2013, the Burundian Government has taken few steps toward combatting political-based violence within the country. Significantly, Burundi did not accept 28 recommendations related to extrajudicial executions, freedom of expression and association, and protections for human rights defenders. Although Burundi accepted recommendations related to combatting impunity, the executive’s continued dominance over the judiciary undermines these UPR commitments. Burundi has made little progress to improve detention conditions or prevent the use of torture by security and intelligence forces. Exacerbating these issues, Burundi has failed to honor its commitment to assist with U.N. special procedures and has suspended all cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Burundi.

This stakeholder submission suggests several recommendations for Burundi, including:

  •  Combat impunity by systematically and promptly carrying out investigations of criminal activity committed by government affiliates and ensure appropriate compensation for victims of such crimes.
  •  Establish an independent mechanism for investigating complaints of torture or ill-treatment at the hands of members of police or security forces, ensuring that law enforcement officials continue to receive investigative training in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol.
  •  Protect, in law and in practice, victims of human rights violations and witnesses of attacks.  
  •  Ensure that the courts systematically reject confessions obtained under torture.
  •  Take all necessary steps to create a dialogue between the government and opposition forces regarding the future of the Arusha Accord.
  •  Take the necessary steps to ensure that legal systems and policies are in full compliance with Burundi’s international obligations with respect to freedom of expression and that journalists and human rights defenders are afforded the freedom to carry out their work independently and without fear of persecution or intimidation.
  •  Guarantee the right to freedom of assembly, association, and expression in conformity with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
  •  Take the necessary steps to raise awareness of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights among judges, lawyers and prosecutors.