Experts detail human rights abuses and climate of fear in Burundi

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Thousands of people fleeing fear of violence in Burundi have arrived in Mahama Refugee Camp, Rwanda. File Photo: UNHCR/Kate Holt

Serious human rights violations continue to take place in Burundi amidst a climate of "deep and widespread fear."

That's the message delivered to the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday by the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi which is investigating abuses in the wake of the President's decision to run for a third term in April 2015.

Dianne Penn reports.

The three members of the Commission laid out a list of violations which have occurred in Burundi, including execution, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances.

Many were committed by members of the National Intelligence Service and the police, sometimes assisted by members of the youth league of the ruling party, known as the Imbonerakure.

The information came from testimony provided by exiles living in Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and other countries, as Commission members were denied access to Burundi.

"We were struck in our investigations by the feeling of deep and widespread fear running through the testimonies we gathered," they said.

The experts also were struck by what they described as "the particularly cruel and brutal nature" of the violations.

For example, some of the testimonies alleged that victims' nails were ripped out with pliers during torture sessions, or that their bones were broken with clubs, rifle butts, bayonets, iron bars and other instruments.

Furthermore, the experts said that "in several cases, acts of torture and ill-treatment were accompanied by violent insults and death threats, including of an ethnic nature."

The Commission of Inquiry on Burundi will present its final report to the UN Human Rights Council in September.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’26″                    


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