Sexual violence cases are "deeply worrying" new trend in Burundi

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Relatives of a student killed in the Jabe neighbourhood of Bujumbura, mourn at home in the Burundian capital. Photo: Phil Moore/IRIN

Cases of sexual violence by security forces in Burundi represent a "deeply worrying" new trend, according to the UN's top human rights official.

At least 13 cases of sexual violence against women by security forces have been documented in the last month in the country, as well as a sharp increase in enforced disappearances and torture cases.

Burundi has been wracked by violence since last April when the country's President declared he would run for a third term.

Veronica Reeves has more.

The instances of sexual violence have taken place since 11 December, when three military camps were attacked, leaving nearly 90 people dead.

Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the attacks were largely concentrated in neighbourhoods perceived as supporting the opposition.

"The pattern was similar in all cases: security forces allegedly entered the victims' houses, separated the women from their families, and raped – in some cases gang-raped – them."

The High Commissioner's Office had also received numerous reports of police and army forces arresting large groups of young men, many of whom were allegedly later tortured, killed or taken to unknown locations.

In a statement, High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said of the on-going violence in Burundi, "All the alarm signals, including the increasing ethnic dimension of the crisis, are flashing red".

Veronica Reeves, United Nations.

Duration: 56"

 

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