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Burundi

    October 27, 2017

    As Burundi’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute came into effect today, amid an ongoing International Criminal Court (ICC) preliminary examination into crimes under international law committed in the country since 2015, Amnesty International’s Head of International Justice Matt Cannock said:

    “The Burundian government has made a cynical attempt to evade justice by taking the unprecedented step of withdrawing from the ICC. But perpetrators, including members of the security forces, cannot so easily shirk their alleged responsibility for crimes under international law committed since 2015.

    “Withdrawal from the Rome Statute does not in any way absolve Burundi of its obligations to end ongoing widespread human rights violations, or to address its abject failure to deliver justice for victims at the national level.

    “The ICC can continue its preliminary investigations regardless of Burundi’s efforts to stop its work by withdrawing from the Court. Even if President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government will not cooperate with the Court, the ICC has ways and means to investigate and prosecute the crimes committed.”

    September 29, 2017

    Thousands of Burundian refugees are under mounting pressure to return to their country where they would be at risk of death, rape and torture, said Amnesty International in a report out today.

    Conform or flee: Repression and insecurity pushing Burundians into exile launches after two East African countries stopped automatically granting refugee status to Burundian asylum seekers. Tanzania stopped in January, and Uganda in June this year.

    The Burundi government has been pressing refugees to return. On a visit to Tanzania in July – his first foreign visit since a coup against him failed two years ago – Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza called on the more than 240,000 refugees there to return home. His comments were echoed by President John Magufuli of Tanzania. Other senior Burundian officials have taken the same message to Uganda’s refugee settlements.

    “While the Burundian government says all is well and urges refugees to return, more Burundians continue to flee the country due to repression and insecurity,” said Rachel Nicholson, Amnesty International’s Burundi researcher.

    October 12, 2016

    The Burundian parliamentary vote today endorsing a withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) is part of the government’s continued effort to deny justice for victims of human rights violations committed since the crisis began in April 2015, said Amnesty International today.

    “This vote, at a time when the ICC is examining allegations of crimes committed in Burundi, highlights the government’s unwillingness to deliver justice for victims,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “Burundi’s on-going attempts to hinder cooperation with human rights bodies and international justice mechanisms are deeply troubling and an added injustice to victims that must end. Interventions by international and regional bodies should be seen as opportunity rather than a threat.”

    August 18, 2016

    International attention may have moved on, but the crisis in Burundi continues. In April 2015, President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would run for a third term in office. This sparked largescale protests across the country, which were violently repressed by security forces. Several months later, bodies were being found on the streets the capital on an almost daily basis. Now the crackdown has become less isible, but the climate of fear remains. y May 2016, some 262,000 people had led the country. It’s not hard to see why.

    345 PEOPLE TORTURED
     
    345 cases of torture were reported in the first four months of 2016, according to the UN. Amnesty had already pointed out a rise in the use of torture against political opponents in 2015 in the report Burundi: Just Tell Me What to Confess to.

    474 PEOPLE KILLED

    Over 474 people were killed in the first year of the crisis, including 130 in December 2015 alone. Among them were 29 children and 77 police officers.

    36+ PEOPLE MISSING

    August 12, 2016

    The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) issued a wake-up call to Burundi today, said Amnesty International after the Committee flagged an increase in the use of torture and other ill-treatment since the beginning of the country’s current crisis in April 2015.

    In its concluding observations following a special report submitted at CAT’s request, the Committee’s 10 independent international experts expressed deep concern over hundreds of cases of torture alleged to have taken place in recent months in both official and unofficial places of detention.

    “The spike in torture cases we have seen in Burundi since the onset of the crisis is extremely alarming and must be urgently addressed by the Burundian government,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s East Africa Deputy Regional Director.

    The Committee made strong recommendations including conducting prompt, efficient and impartial investigations into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment and ensuring that all those responsible are prosecuted and sentenced taking into account the grave nature of the offence.

    April 26, 2016

    One year on from the start of the Burundi crisis, the human rights situation in the country continues to deteriorate and accountability for horrific acts of violence remains elusive, Amnesty International said today. The decision by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open a preliminary examination underlines the gravity of the situation.

    Burundi has been in a political crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to stand for a third term in office last April, which many saw as unconstitutional. Since then, hundreds have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled abroad.

    “Burundians have paid the price as the political crisis escalated over the last 12 months, as killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances have increased to alarming levels,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    January 28, 2016

    Released 29 January 2016 – 00:01 EAT

    Compelling new satellite images, video footage and witness accounts analysed by Amnesty International strongly indicate that dozens of people killed by Burundian security forces in December were later buried in mass graves.

    Before and after images and video footage clearly show five possible mass graves in the Buringa area, on the outskirts of Bujumbura. The imagery, dating from late December and early January, shows disturbed earth consistent with witness accounts. Witnesses told Amnesty International that the graves were dug on the afternoon of 11 December, in the immediate aftermath of the bloodiest day of Burundi’s escalating crisis.

    “These images suggest a deliberate effort by the authorities to cover up the extent of the killings by their security forces and to prevent the full truth from coming out,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    December 21, 2015

    Released 00.01 GMT, 22 December 2015

    Security forces systematically killed dozens of people, including by extrajudicial execution, on the single bloodiest day of Burundi’s escalating crisis, Amnesty International has found.

    In a briefing, “My children are scared”: Burundi’s deepening human rights crisis, Amnesty International documents extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests, and looting by the police in Bujumbura on 11 December 2015.

    “In the single most deadly day since the current political unrest began, the streets of Bujumbura were left littered with bodies, many shot with a single bullet to the head. At least one body was found tied up,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “The security forces’ violent tactics that day represented a dramatic escalation in scale and intensity from previous operations. Men were dragged out of their homes and shot at close range, while others were shot the instant their doors were opened.”

    December 17, 2015

    The international community must take urgent steps to address the political crisis in Burundi and restore full respect for human rights as the country moves dangerously to the brink of civil war, said Amnesty International following a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

    The organization described the adoption of a resolution to send a team of international experts to Burundi to investigate the violence and recommend solutions as an important first step, and called for an intensified focus on human rights violations.

    "There is no time to delay - Burundi is facing a human rights crisis”, said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “There is an urgent need for a redoubling of efforts to resolve the political crisis in Burundi, and the international community must act vigorously by supporting the urgent mission of independent experts to investigate crimes under international law and human rights violations as soon as possible. Burundi must receive the mission without delay.”

    November 09, 2015

    This afternoon’s United Nations Security Council meeting on Burundi’s ongoing political and human rights crisis must include a clear and robust call on Burundian authorities to end the crisis, address serious human rights concerns and ensure people’s safety, Amnesty International said.

    “Incendiary rhetoric from top officials is fuelling fears that the already tense situation in Burundi could spiral out of control, leading to mass killings,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes region.

    “Allowing independent human rights observers in, and protecting residents from further violence, are key ingredients to quelling the current unrest.”

    Violence has continued in the capital, Bujumbura, with daily reports of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, torture and other ill-treatment. Nine men – including a UNDP employee – were reportedly killed in a shooting in a bar in the capital on Saturday. On Friday, the son of leading human rights defender Pierre Claver Mbonimpa was found dead after having been arrested by police.

    August 23, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs EAT   24 August 2015

    Beatings with iron bars and acid burns are among an array of torture techniques used by Burundian security forces to extract “confessions” and silence dissent, according to a new Amnesty International briefing published today.

    In a briefing titled “Just tell me what to confess to”: Torture and ill-treatment by Burundi’s police and intelligence service since April 2015, Amnesty International has documented chilling testimonies of victims of torture and other ill-treatment at the hands of security forces. The briefing highlights a spike in the use of torture in Burundi since April 2015.  

    “The testimonies we received are as devastating as they are disturbing since torture and other ill-treatment are prohibited both by Burundi’s Constitution and by international and regional treaties Burundi is party to,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    August 04, 2015

    The brazen attack on leading human rights defender, Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, is part of a disturbing escalation of politically motivated violence in Burundi and authorities must act to calm the situation and bring those responsible to justice, said Amnesty International.

    Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, president of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained People (APRODH), was shot and injured by gunmen in Bujumbura on 3 August. The attack took place a day after the assassination of General Adolphe Nshimirimana, chief security advisor to the Presidency.

    “This brazen attack on Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, a man who works tirelessly to protect the rights of others, is deeply shocking,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    The Burundian authorities must act swiftly to reverse a growing climate of fear and violence by publicly calling for calm and bringing the attackers to justice.”

    July 22, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs EAT   23 July 2015

    Burundian authorities repressed demonstrations as if they were an insurrection, and now the country appears to be on the verge of conflict, Amnesty International warned in a new report, Braving Bullets – Excessive force in policing demonstrations in Burundi, released today.

    Amnesty International’s investigation in May and June 2015 found that Burundian police used excessive lethal force, including against women and children, to silence those opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third-term.

    “It is a tragedy that demonstrators had to brave bullets to try to have their voices heard,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    June 10, 2015

    Escalating threats against journalists and other media workers in the past week are worrying signs that journalism in Burundi has become increasingly dangerous since an attempted coup last month, Amnesty International warned today.

    Media freedom and coverage is critical to provide accurate information given the electoral impasse triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, as well as growing fears of renewed conflict with wider regional implications.

    “The intimidation is real and has sparked a climate of fear among journalists. If the police are shooting peaceful protesters, journalists must be able to report that. If Burundian citizens are fleeing the country, journalists should be free to report that too,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn, and the Great Lakes.

    “Burundians have a right to information about government activities including the stalled electoral process and mediation efforts to forestall renewed conflict in the region.”

    Recent threats and resstrictions

    April 29, 2015

    The Burundian government must halt its brutal clampdown on protestors contesting President Nkurunziza’s bid to stand again in the forthcoming elections, Amnesty International warned today, or risk the situation spiralling out of control.  

    “It is alarming that people have been killed as a result of expressing their views about the electoral process. This sets a dangerous precedent at a time when the Government of Burundi should be prioritising human rights and the protection of the population in the lead-up to the elections,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
     
    “The failure of the government to even guarantee people’s rights to life and security sends a worrisome warning signal about the risk of serious human rights violations. The police and the Government of Burundi must uphold their obligations with respect to peaceful demonstrations.”

    “It is now critical for all parties in Burundi to take a clear and common stand against human rights abuses”.

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