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Burundi: EU renews sanctions until 31 October 2018 (23.10.2017)

These measures consist of a travel ban and asset freeze against four persons whose activities are deemed to be undermining democratic governance.

BRUSSELS, Belgium, October 23, 2017 – On 23 October 2017, the Council renewed the EU restrictive measures against Burundi for another year until 31 October 2018. These measures consist of a travel ban and asset freeze against four persons whose activities are deemed to be undermining democratic governance and obstructing the search for a peaceful political solution in Burundi. These activities include acts of violence, repression or incitement to violence and acts which constitute serious human rights violations.

The EU remains profoundly concerned by information on continuing extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, forced disappearances, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and gender-based violence, including sexual violence committed in Burundi since April 2015. The EU has repeatedly and continuously called on all parties to refrain from and to firmly condemn any acts of violence and to end the cycle of impunity of perpetrators. The respect for the rule of law, built on  effective, accountable and inclusive institutions is essential to achieving a lasting political solution to the crisis.

The Council considered that the absence of progress in the situation in Burundi justified the renewal of the sanctions for another year.

The names of the persons concerned and the reasons for listing them are included in the annex to the decision of 1 October 2015 published in the Official Journal.

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Burundi: Commission of inquiry calls on the International Criminal Court to investigate possible crimes against humanity (05.09.2017)

The conclusions presented by the three Commissioners are the result of several months of investigations and interviews with more than 500 witnesses.

GENEVA, Switzerland, September 5, 2017 – The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Burundi has reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed and continue to be committed in Burundi since April 2015, according to the Commission’s report published on Monday. These crimes are taking place in a context of serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, sexual violence, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and enforced disappearances.

“We were struck by the scale and the brutality of the violations. We also noted a lack of will on the part of the Burundian authorities to fight against impunity and guarantee the independence of the judiciary. As a result, there is a strong likelihood that the perpetrators of these crimes will remain unpunished,” said Fatsah Ouguergouz, President of the Commission of Inquiry. Among the alleged perpetrators, the Commission mentioned members, including high level officials, of the National Intelligence Services and the national police force, military officials, and members of the youth league of the ruling party, known as Imbonerakure.

The conclusions presented by the three Commissioners are the result of several months of investigations and interviews with more than 500 witnesses, including many Burundians living abroad as refugees and others who remain in Burundi, often at risk to their lives. The Commission gathered these testimonies in difficult conditions. “There is a climate of pervasive fear in Burundi. Victims have been threatened, even in exile. This meant that the Commission had to be extremely careful to ensure that their testimonies could not be used to endanger them,” said Françoise Hampson, one of the three members of the Commission.

These accounts, whether from victims, their families or witnesses to their ordeal, were rigorously checked and corroborated. They show that serious human rights violations are ongoing. “We continue to receive reliable, credible and consistent information confirming that these violations are still taking place in Burundi today. Some of these violations are occurring in a more clandestine manner, but they are still just as brutal,” stated Fatsah Ouguergouz.

The Burundian authorities rejected the Commission’s repeated attempts to establish a dialogue and to request information from the government, and did not allow its members to go to Burundi. “We deeply regret the Burundian government’s lack of cooperation, which, among other things, made it difficult for us to document human rights abuses committed by armed opposition groups. This is all the more regrettable given that Burundi, as a member of the Human Rights Council, has an obligation to cooperate with mechanisms set up by the Council,” said Reine Alapini Gansou, a member of the Commission.

The Commission is asking the Burundian authorities to immediately put a stop to serious human rights violations by state agents and Imbonerakure over whom the State exercises control.

In view of the impunity protecting the perpetrators of these violations, the Commission is asking the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into the crimes committed in Burundi as soon as possible. The Commission is also asking the African Union to retake the initiative to find a lasting solution to the crisis in Burundi, based on respect for human rights, and to remain actively involved.

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