“The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein today warned of a “sharp increase in the use of torture and ill-treatment in Burundi” and voiced concerns about worrying reports of the existence of illegal detention facilities, both in Bujumbura and in the countryside. His Office (OHCHR) estimates that some 595 people have been ill-treated or tortured since April 2015, a figure which is likely to be an under-estimate. Daniel Lutaaya has been speaking to the Burundian Ambassodor to Uganda H. E Jean Bosco Barege to find out the truth or otherwise to this matter” (WBS TV Uganda, 2016)
In response to Burundi joining the United Nations Human Rights Council for a three year term beginning January 1, 2016, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Burundi should be suspended rather than be allowed to formally join the UNHRC, given the flagrant human rights abuses committed by the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza,” said Mark P. Lagon, president of Freedom House. “Suspending Burundi from the UNHRC, as the Council did with Libya in 2011, sends a strong message to the government that violent tactics are not acceptable, and may pressure the government to participate in an internationally mediated dialogue on neutral soil. We welcome the Council’s special session on Burundi, scheduled for this Thursday, and the Council’s intention to send an investigative team there in January.”
The UN has received reports that as many as 200 people died December 11-12, when rebel forces attacked three military installations and Burundian security forces responded with door-to-door searches. Burundi’s military maintains the death toll was about 80.
Since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza violated the Arusha Peace Accords by deciding to run for a third term, more than 300 people have been killed and over 240,000 have been forced to flee the country. In November, the Burundian government ordered the suspension of more than 10 local human rights organizations.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.