39/63 Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi
GE.18-13070 (E) 290818 050918
Human Rights Council Thirty-ninth session
10–28 September 2018
Agenda item 4
Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention
Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi*
The Commission of Inquiry on Burundi found that the serious human rights
violations documented in the first year of its mandate, including crimes against humanity,
have persisted in 2017 and 2018. Such violations include cases of summary execution,
enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and other cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment, sexual violence, and violations of civil liberties such as the freedoms
of expression, association, assembly and movement (see A/HRC/36/54 and
While the State entities that are most often implicated in these violations continue to
be the National Intelligence Service and the police, the Commission is concerned about the
growing role being played by members of the ruling party’s youth league, the
Imbonerakure, in a situation in which recruitment drives among the general public are
being used as a means of suppressing all opposition. The perpetrators of the violations are
operating in a climate of impunity perpetuated by the lack of an independent judiciary.
The political crisis in Burundi has had a very negative impact on the country’s
economic and social situation and has fuelled an increase in poverty. The Government has
nonetheless imposed additional taxes and contributions, in contravention of the right of all
persons to an adequate standard of living, and has failed to devote the greatest possible
share of its domestic resources to the realization of economic and social rights.
* The annexes to the present document are being circulated as received, in the language of submission only.
United Nations A/HRC/39/63
General Assembly Distr.: General 8 August 2018
I. Introduction ................................................................................................................................... 3
A. Mandate ................................................................................................................................ 3
B. Cooperation by Burundi with the Commission ..................................................................... 3
C. Methodology ......................................................................................................................... 3
D. Applicable law ...................................................................................................................... 4
II. Human rights situation .................................................................................................................. 4
A. Main trends ........................................................................................................................... 4
B. Responsibility ....................................................................................................................... 5
C. Violations of civil and political rights .................................................................................. 8
D. Violations of economic and social rights .............................................................................. 12
E. Dysfunction in the judicial system ........................................................................................ 13
III. International crimes ....................................................................................................................... 14
A. Constituent elements and types of crimes ............................................................................. 14
B. Individual responsibility ....................................................................................................... 15
IV. Measures to protect civilians and prevent the recurrence of conflict ............................................ 15
V. Conclusions and recommendations ............................................................................................... 16
Annexes ............................................................................................................................................................ 21
I. Map of Burundi ............................................................................................................................. 21
II. Correspondence with the Government of Burundi ........................................................................ 22
1. The Commission of Inquiry on Burundi was created by Human Rights Council
resolution 33/24, adopted on 30 September 2016, to conduct a thorough investigation into
human rights violations and abuses in Burundi since April 2015, to determine whether any
of them may constitute international crimes, to identify their alleged perpetrators and to
formulate recommendations for ensuring that such perpetrators “are held accountable for
their acts”. By its resolution 36/19, adopted on 29 September 2017, the Council extended
the Commission’s mandate without modification for one year.
2. In 2018, the Commission placed special emphasis on the violations and abuses
committed since 2017 in order to highlight developments in the situation as compared to
the one prevailing in 2015 and 2016. The Commission also focused more closely on
economic and social rights and the functioning of the judicial system.
3. On 1 February 2018, Mr. Doudou Diène of Senegal was appointed to chair the
Commission following the resignation of the previous Chair, Mr. Fatsah Ouguergouz. On 5
March 2018, Ms. Lucy Asuagbor of Cameroon was appointed to serve as a member of the
Commission to replace Ms. Reine Alapini Gansou, who was elected to the International
Criminal Court. Ms. Françoise Hampson of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland continued to serve as a member of the Commission, as she has done since
4. The Commission presented two oral briefings to the Human Rights Council, at the
Council’s thirty-seventh and thirty-eighth sessions. The present report summarizes the final
conclusions of its investigations, which will be detailed in a separate document.1
B. Cooperation by Burundi with the Commission
5. By its resolution 36/19, the Human Rights Council urged the Government of
Burundi to cooperate fully with the Commission of Inquiry, to authorize it to conduct visits
to the country and to provide it with all the information necessary to fulfil its mandate. To
this end, the Commission sent six letters to the Permanent Mission of Burundi in Geneva
and one letter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (annex II).
It called on the Burundian authorities, including during its oral briefings to the Human
Rights Council, to grant it access to Burundi and to share information on the human rights
situation in the country, including information concerning attacks on agents of the State and
members of the ruling party. As in the past, these requests have gone unanswered. The
Burundian authorities have consistently disputed the content of the Commission’s briefings
and reports and have taken a hostile attitude towards the Commission, threatening twice to
take legal action against its members. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human
Rights has condemned this threat as being contrary to the 1946 Convention on the
Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.
6. During the current mandate period, the Commission visited Belgium, Uganda, the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania. It also
conducted a mission to Ethiopia to meet with representatives of the African Union.
Through these visits and numerous remote contacts, in particular with individuals living in
Burundi, the Commission conducted more than 400 interviews with victims, witnesses and
1 That document (A/HRC/39/CRP.1) will be available shortly on the website of the Human Rights
Council and the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi (www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/
other sources. These are in addition to the 500 interviews conducted and the testimonies
gathered during its initial mandate period.
7. As it had done for its previous report (A/HRC/36/54 and A/HRC/36/54/Corr.1), the
Commission adopted the same standard of proof as most other commissions of inquiry on
human rights, namely “reasonable grounds to believe”. It therefore took care to collect a
body of reliable and consistent information on the basis of which a reasonable and
ordinarily prudent person would have reason to believe that an incident or pattern of
conduct had occurred.
D. Applicable law
8. The law applicable to the work of the Commission, namely international human
rights law and international criminal law, has also remained the same (see A/HRC/36/54,
paras. 9 and 10). Over the past year, there have been no new developments pointing to the
existence of an armed conflict to which the rules of international humanitarian law would
apply. Having decided to place greater emphasis on economic and social rights, the
Commission based its legal analyses on the relevant instruments to which Burundi is a
9. Burundi remains a party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the
Crime of Genocide, but it ceased to be a party to the Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court on 27 October 2017. The country’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute does
not, however, discharge it from the obligations arising therefrom while it was a party to this
treaty. 3 Accordingly, on 25 October 2017, Pre-Trial Chamber III of the International
Criminal Court authorized the Prosecutor of the Court to open an investigation into crimes
committed in Burundi between 26 April 2015 and 26 October 2017. The Commission has
continued to refer to the definitions of crimes provided by the Rome Statute, which are
reflected in the Criminal Code of Burundi.
II. Human rights situation
A. Main trends
10. The Commission found that the main human rights violations documented since the
political crisis began in April 2015, namely cases of summary execution, disappearance and
enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and ill-treatment, and sexual
violence, have persisted in 2017 and 2018. As in the past, most of the victims of these
violations are opponents of the Government and/or of the ruling party (the Conseil national
pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD)) or
persons who are perceived as such, including members of opposition political parties
(particularly the Forces nationales de libération, led by Agathon Rwasa, and the
Mouvement pour la solidarité et la démocratie); supporters of armed opposition groups;
Burundians trying to flee the country and therefore suspected of joining such groups; or
journalists or members of civil society organizations.
11. The violations have had lasting psychological and physical effects on the victims.
Those that have been committed primarily against men, including enforced disappearance
and summary execution, have had multiple consequences for the victims’ families. In
addition to the impact of losing a spouse, wives often face harassment, threats or violence
on the part of the alleged perpetrators and are unable to meet the basic needs of their
12. Before and during the campaign to amend the Constitution, CNDD-FDD and its
youth league, the Imbonerakure, stepped up their efforts to recruit members from among
2 See A/HRC/39/CRP.1.
3 Rome Statute, art. 127.
the general public. These efforts focused in particular on Burundians — even those who
were apolitical — who had refused or been unable to register to vote and on those who had
not paid their contribution for the 2020 elections. These trends are further limiting freedom
of expression in a country whose main independent media outlets and human rights
organizations have been banned. Those that continue to operate in the country have been
subjected to restrictions, threats and persecution.
13. This climate of disregard for human rights continues to be fomented by repeated
instances in which hatred and violence have been advocated by the authorities, including
the Head of State and members of CNDD-FDD, and by an overall context of impunity
exacerbated by the lack of an independent and properly functioning judicial system, as well
as a lack of public trust in the latter. This environment has also had a direct impact on the
enjoyment of economic and social rights, given that a growing share of the population has
unmet needs, primarily in the areas of health, nutrition, water, hygiene and sanitation, as a
result of increased financial pressure from the authorities and CNDD-FDD. Whereas
Burundi was formerly a developing country, it is now once again in a state of humanitarian
emergency. In some cases Burundians are deprived of their rights, such as the right to
education, for political reasons.
14. The number of Burundian refugees increased steadily until 31 March 2018, reaching
nearly 431,000; it then began to decline. The number today is estimated at 394,778,
accounting for 3.7 per cent of the Burundian population. 4 The Commission met with
persons recently granted refugee status who reported that checkpoints, in particular those
set up by Imbonerakure, have been stepped up at the country’s borders. In some cases,
human rights violations have been committed against individuals who were trying to flee or
who had returned to Burundi. Some of these persons have gone back into exile without
necessarily being registered in the host country.
1. Responsibility of the Burundian State
15. States have a threefold obligation to respect, protect and fulfil human rights,
including both civil and political rights and economic and social rights.
(a) Obligation to respect
16. The obligation to respect human rights requires States, their agents and persons
acting under their control to refrain from actively violating the rights of individuals.
(i) Responsibility of the State for the conduct of its organs
17. The Commission found that members of the National Intelligence Service and the
police, including high-ranking officials, were involved in the commission of a large number
of human rights violations in 2017 and 2018. Administrative authorities have also
committed or ordered the commission of human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest
and detention and ill-treatment.
18. New testimonies, including from former State and security officials, have confirmed
the central role being played by an informal structure surrounding the Head of State, often
referred to as the “committee of generals”, that includes State officials such as the Minister
of Public Security, the Administrator-General of the National Intelligence Service, the
heads of the President’s civil cabinet and office of police affairs, and the Secretary-General
of CNDD-FDD. This structure sets the policy on political and security issues, including the
measures to be taken in relation to opponents. It transmits its orders and directives through
a parallel hierarchy and chains of command based on a network of personal loyalties, some
of which date back to the time of the rebellion, whose composition varies from one
province or locality to another. The workings of this structure always involve more or less
4 Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 30 June 2018. See
high-ranking officials of the National Intelligence Service, the police, the army, the
administration and CNDD-FDD. In this regard, organs of the State are often
indistinguishable from organs of the ruling party.
19. The Government has imposed additional taxes and contributions, including for the
2020 elections (see para. 57), and has thereby exacerbated poverty and violated the
obligation of the State to take appropriate measures to ensure that all persons have an
adequate standard of living for themselves and their families.5 Discrimination by State
agents based on whether or not individuals belong to CNDD-FDD has had an impact on
specific rights, such as the right to education, and on employment in the civil service and in
public and public-private enterprises.
(ii) Responsibility of the State for the conduct of the Imbonerakure
20. The information gathered, in particular from former members of the Imbonerakure
and CNDD-FDD, confirms that the role of the Imbonerakure is growing in an overall
context of recruitment among the general public and persecution of political opponents and
persons perceived as such. The referendum campaign has given rise to numerous violations
by Imbonerakure, who, acting either alone or in the presence of law enforcement officers,
conduct checks to verify whether persons of voting age have registered and whether they
have paid their contributions for the 2020 elections. These checks have often served as a
pretext for extortion and theft. Forced recruitment into the Imbonerakure has also
reportedly been stepped up.
21. The increase in these activities and the wider latitude being left to the Imbonerakure
demonstrate their collusion with formal and informal structures of State repression (see
para. 18). The fact that the Imbonerakure are members of the “joint human security
committees”, along with representatives of the administration and the police, indicates that
they are acknowledged to play a role in the security apparatus. With the consent of local
governments, Imbonerakure have been used as auxiliaries or substitutes for law
enforcement in the country’s interior, where such forces have a reduced presence. Some
testimonies have even indicated that police operations against opponents have been led by
22. The Commission is thus in a position to establish the responsibility of the Burundian
State for wrongful acts committed by Imbonerakure in four contexts: when their conduct is
acknowledged and adopted by agents of the State,6 when they act on the instructions or
under the direction of the latter,7 and when they act in “complete dependence” on or under
the “effective control” of such agents.
23. Imbonerakure have continued to make arrests on their own initiative, often with
violence, and to hand over the persons apprehended to the police or the National
Intelligence Service. The detention of such persons by law enforcement shows that the
latter have adopted the conduct of such Imbonerakure. This acknowledgement is also
demonstrated by the fact that no measures have been taken to put a stop to such conduct.
24. Imbonerakure have continued to act on the orders of officials, including high-
ranking officials, of the National Intelligence Service, the police and the Office of the
President. Some have taken part in law enforcement operations or operations against
opponents, acting alongside police or intelligence officers and in some cases wearing the
same uniforms or carrying the same weapons as the defence and security forces. Such
conduct by Imbonerakure has even taken place in prisons, such as the Mpimba prison in
Bujumbura, and in police holding cells.
25. The growing role and freedom of action of the Imbonerakure are entirely dependent
on the discretion of State power structures and on the impunity accorded by the latter. To
demonstrate the “complete dependence” of an organization on the State, international
5 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, art. 11.
6 International Law Commission, articles on responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts,
7 Ibid., art. 8.
jurisprudence nonetheless requires the existence of a particularly great degree of control, as
shown, for example, by the provision of considerable military and financial support and
systematic alignment with State policy.8 In this connection, witness statements confirm that
a group of demobilized soldiers, subsequently joined by Imbonerakure, was created in 2006
and has since been trained, armed and remunerated by the former Administrator-General of
the National Intelligence Service. Following the killing of that official in 2015, the group
was supplemented by new members selected and used by officials of the National
Intelligence Service, the police and the army to conduct operations, including summary
executions and targeted disappearances. On the basis of this information, the Commission
is of the view that the group is acting in complete dependence on the Burundian State.
26. The Commission remains convinced that the Imbonerakure often operate under the
“effective control” of the Burundian State. International jurisprudence requires that such
control be demonstrated in each case through the planning and organization of operations,
the issuance of orders or the provision of equipment by the State. 9 Several witness
statements attest to that level of control during operations carried out by Imbonerakure.
27. However, to date, international judges have issued rulings only in cases involving
entities acting outside the territory of the State in question. In such cases, the State must
have exercised direct control in order to be held accountable. The Imbonerakure, however,
are committing wrongful acts on Burundian territory. The State thus has more means at its
disposal, in particular of a legislative, judicial and financial nature, for putting an end to
their activities or, on the contrary, for promoting them through its action or deliberate
inaction. It is therefore in a position to exercise overall effective control over the
Imbonerakure. Given that the Imbonerakure have been involved in a wide range of
activities, including some within the purview of the Government; have in a number of cases
acted autonomously but with a freedom of action afforded by the authorities; and have
continued to enjoy near-total impunity, the Commission is of the view that the Burundian
State is responsible for the wrongful acts committed by the Imbonerakure, since it exercises
overall effective control. Therefore, under international law, the Burundian State may be
held accountable for all of the human rights violations attributable to the Imbonerakure.
(b) Obligation to protect
28. The State has a duty to protect the human rights of persons under its jurisdiction, in
particular when it knows or should have known of violations or abuses committed by third
parties. By allowing its agents and/or Imbonerakure who are responsible for such acts to go
unpunished, including by not conducting investigations or initiating proceedings against
them, the Burundian State is failing to meet its obligation to protect. By not taking action to
combat impunity and not undertaking a thorough reform of its judicial system (see paras.
62–65), the Burundian State is encouraging the repeated commission of human rights
violations and abuses.
(c) Obligation to fulfil
29. Article 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
requires States parties to take steps to the maximum of their available resources with a view
to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized therein. The fact that
international assistance to Burundi has decreased since 2015 as a result of violations of civil
and political rights does not relieve the Burundian State of its obligation to devote the
maximum of its available resources to the realization of economic and social rights. Yet the
Commission has noted that the country’s domestic resources are oriented more towards
defence and security expenditures and that there are many exemptions. The Commission
has also received information on the misappropriation and seizure of public property by
8 International Court of Justice, Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the
Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports
2007. 9 Ibid.; see also International Court of Justice, Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against
Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America), Merits, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1986.
senior officials (see para. 60) in a country that is experiencing a humanitarian crisis and in
which much of the population is unable to enjoy the right to food.
2. Responsibility of armed groups and opposition political parties
30. The existence of armed groups at the border continues to pose a threat to the
country’s civilian population. To the Commission’s knowledge, none of these groups
claimed responsibility for an attack on Burundian soil in 2017 or 2018. Because the
Commission has not had access to victims and the Government has repeatedly refused to
hand over evidence, the Commission has been unable to corroborate the information it has
received on the involvement of armed groups in human rights violations in Burundi since
2015. In particular, it has not been able to identify the group responsible for the killing of at
least 24 people on 11 May 2018 in the district (commune) of Buganda, Province of
Cibitoke. The findings of the investigation carried out by the Burundian authorities have
not yet been released.
31. The Commission noted that on 3 and 5 April 2018, a call to arms via Twitter and
Facebook was issued by Jérémie Minani, a member of the governing body of the National
Council for the Restoration of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi,
the Constitution and the Rule of Law, which is a platform for opposition political parties in
exile. On 8 June 2018, the Civic Forum of Burundi issued a statement, signed by the
President of the Council and representatives of civil society organizations in exile, calling
for a “revolution” by the Burundian people. While the statement cannot be described as a
clear incitement to armed conflict, the use of revolutionary language nevertheless raises the
possibility of recourse to violence.
C. Violations of civil and political rights
1. Right to life
(a) Summary execution
32. While summary executions were not found to have taken place on a large scale, as
occurred in 2015, several witness statements attest to the persistence of such violations,
primarily against persons who belonged or were suspected of belonging to the opposition,
in particular when such persons refused to join CNDD-FDD, to register to vote in the
referendum or to pay contributions.
33. Most of those alleged to have perpetrated summary executions since 2017 have been
members of the National Intelligence Service, the police or the Imbonerakure. Members of
the Imbonerakure have acted either alone or in conjunction with the security forces, or
under the supervision of the latter.
34. The practice of concealing the bodies, including by weighing them down with stones
and throwing them into watercourses or by transporting them from one province or district
to another in order to make them harder to identify, has persisted. It also continues to be the
case that when bodies are found, they are simply buried and no investigation is conducted.
(b) Enforced disappearance
35. The phenomenon of arbitrary arrest and detention, including in secret locations, the
concealment of bodies and the impunity prevailing in the country have continued to create a
climate of secrecy that is conducive to cases of disappearance. This secrecy is exacerbated
by the restrictions imposed on independent journalists and civil society organizations and
by victims’ reluctance to file complaints for fear of reprisals. According to some
testimonies, individuals have disappeared following night-time raids on their homes carried
out by Imbonerakure. Cases of disappearance also continue to be attributed to officers of
the National Intelligence Service and the police.
36. At this stage of its investigations, the Commission has reasonable grounds to believe
that Léopold Habarugira, an official of the opposition party Union pour la paix et le
développement-Zigamibanga, who was arrested on 12 September 2017 by a group of
individuals including at least one person wearing a police uniform, has been a victim of
enforced disappearance.10 The same appears to be true of Mouvement pour la solidarité et la
démocratie members Bonaventure Havyarimana, Égide Habonimana, Lionel Hafashimana,
Bénius Mbanyenimanga and Emmanuel Nyabenda, who were arrested in Bujumbura on 2
March 2018 by officers of the National Intelligence Service. The twins Bukuru and Butoyi
Shabani, who were arrested in November 2016, and Évariste Nyandwi, alias Matwi, who
was arrested in December 2016, were detained in a house in Bujumbura that was used by
the National Intelligence Service as a secret place of detention. It is alleged that they were
subsequently executed by members of the National Intelligence Service. The Commission
has also gathered information on other cases in which it has reason to fear that enforced
disappearances have taken place.11
2. Right to liberty and security of person
37. Cases of arbitrary arrest and detention have continued to be perpetrated. Most such
cases have targeted persons affiliated with opposition political parties or opposition armed
groups or persons perceived as such, as well as persons who did not register to vote or who
called on voters to reject the constitutional amendment. Members of the former Burundian
Armed Forces (“ex-FAB”) and persons trying to flee the country have also been targeted, as
have persons — even those who were apolitical — who refused to join CNDD-FDD or the
38. Arrests continue to be carried out by police officers, members of the National
Intelligence Service and administrative authorities. Collective arrests are sometimes made
in the wake of security incidents or in the case of political opponents. Imbonerakure act in
the presence of police officers and/or local authorities, or on their own initiative, before
handing the arrested persons over to the police. It is clear that these acts are arbitrary
because the Imbonerakure are not legally authorized to carry out arrests,12 the victims are
not informed of the reasons for their arrest and the arrests are conducted without a warrant
and, in some cases, in a violent manner.
39. Signs of arbitrary detention include the absence of a legal basis or the misuse of
vague descriptions such as “undermining the internal security of the State”, prolonged
detention without the possibility of appeal, failure to inform the detainee’s relatives and
lack of access to legal counsel. Relatives of persons wanted by the authorities have been
detained or threatened with arrest. Some individuals have been detained in police holding
cells before being taken to the National Intelligence Service or the Special Investigation
Brigade. Testimonies concerning detention in unofficial places have also been obtained, as
well as information on the use of police holding cells to detain Imbonerakure for internal
40. The same arbitrariness continues to be observed with regard to release from custody.
Some individuals have been released for no apparent reason, others because they knew
someone within the State apparatus and still others in exchange for what have sometimes
amounted to large sums of money. Some individuals who were freed upon acquittal or
presidential pardon have been rearrested or subjected to death threats, or are being sought
by State agents or Imbonerakure. In addition, some persons who were sentenced for
political reasons have been kept in detention even after they had been exonerated or had
completed the term of their sentence.
3. Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
41. Cases of torture and ill-treatment have persisted. While some of these acts have been
committed by officers of the National Intelligence Service and the police, the majority have
10 See the definition of “enforced disappearance” in article 2 of the International Convention for the
Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
11 In these cases, some but not all elements of the definition of “enforced disappearance” are present.
For further details, see A/HRC/36/54, para. 38; see also A/HRC/36/CRP.1 and A/HRC/39/CRP.1.
12 Unless the person is arrested in flagrante delicto.
been committed by Imbonerakure acting alone, sometimes with the assistance or in the
presence of police officers.
42. Most of the victims in these cases have been young men who were, or were
perceived to be, sympathizers or members of opposition political parties and who refused to
join the ranks of CNDD-FDD or the Imbonerakure, or who were accused of joining armed
groups when they were trying to flee the country. Persons who had refused to register to
vote or who were suspected of calling on voters to reject the constitutional amendment
were targeted during the referendum campaign. In some cases, women have been subjected
to ill-treatment by Imbonerakure who were looking for a member of their family.
43. Most such acts of torture and ill-treatment have occurred in places of detention:
police or National Intelligence Service holding cells, the Mpimba central prison in
Bujumbura and unofficial places of detention such as private homes. There have also been
cases in which the acts occurred in public places, such as streets or fields. Some victims
were beaten or kicked on different parts of their bodies or were hit with stones, sticks, rods,
metal bars or rifle butts, or were attacked with sharp objects such as machetes or knives.
Some victims were burned with heated metal rods, and some were tied up or handcuffed. In
a number of cases, acts of torture were accompanied by threats, including death threats,
intimidation and verbal abuse, sometimes of an ethnically charged nature.
44. Several victims described conditions of detention in prisons and police cells that
constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, including overcrowding in cells,
unhealthy conditions and lack of food, water and medical care.
4. Sexual violence
45. The Commission documented numerous cases of sexual violence. The majority of
the victims are women, targeted because they or their spouses belonged or were thought to
belong to the opposition or because they refused to join the ranks of CNDD-FDD or the
Imbonerakure, sometimes out of a desire to remain apolitical. Most of the perpetrators were
Imbonerakure or other men who implied that they were acting on behalf of CNDD-FDD. In
most of the cases, the women were raped by one or several men during attacks on their
homes, which often took place at night. The rapes were often accompanied by other types
of physical violence against the victims and, in some cases, against other members of the
household. The perpetrators sometimes made death threats or ethnically charged remarks.
These acts, especially those committed for a specific purpose such as intimidation or
punishment because of the victim’s assumed political affiliation, constitute acts of torture.
46. In the context of detention, men have also been victims of sexual violence, including
cases of forced nudity and violence on the genital area. Such violence, which constitutes
torture, has taken place inter alia in National Intelligence Service cells. Sexual violence has
been perpetrated by police or National Intelligence Service officers, generally against
persons suspected of belonging to or supporting armed groups.
47. The fact that the victims often have not had access to appropriate health care has
exacerbated the consequences of sexual violence. Most of the victims have not filed
complaints because they were afraid of being stigmatized, did not have access to justice or
did not trust that effective measures would be taken against State agents or perpetrators
linked to CNDD-FDD. Several women who had been victims of sexual violence said that
they had informed the local authorities but that the latter had not taken any action. The
persistence of multiple forms of discrimination against women in Burundi is conducive to
5. Civil liberties
(a) Freedom of expression
48. Most of the violations and restrictions that have been documented, particularly in the
context of the referendum campaign, have curtailed the freedom of expression. With regard
to the media, the National Communication Council, whose powers and subordination to the
executive branch were reinforced by an organization act adopted in March 2018, has
tightened its control over the media and journalists. In September 2017, the National
Communication Council revoked the licences of about a dozen media outlets, including
Radio publique africaine, Radio Bonesha FM and Radio-Télévision Renaissance, all of
which have been shut down since May 2015. The Council has also ordered a number of
suspensions. For example, it suspended radio broadcasts by the Chamber of Commerce and
Industry in October 2017 and broadcasts by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)13
and Voice of America in May 2018, and has suspended certain sections of the online
newspapers Iwacu and Le Renouveau. Many independent journalists remain in exile. Others
have gone into exile in 2018, and those who are still working in Burundi continue to be
subjected to pressure, intimidation and restrictions on the part of local authorities, the
National Intelligence Service and Imbonerakure.
49. The Commission remains concerned about the frequent instances of incitement to
hostility or violence, which contravene article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights. In particular, certain speeches made by the Head of State — especially
those of 18 November 2017, 12 December 2017 and 2 May 2018 — have threatened
opponents both within and outside CNDD-FDD. These speeches were echoed across the
country by local authorities and members of the ruling party. Melchiade Nzopfabarushe, a
former Chef de Cabinet in the Office of the President, was convicted at first instance of
having made remarks amounting to hate speech in April 2018, but his sentence was
significantly reduced on appeal and he has since been released. Other individuals who have
publicly made similar remarks have gone unpunished. In addition, as in previous years,
some Imbonerakure continue to chant militant and hateful slogans as a show of force.
(b) Freedoms of association and assembly
50. The situation of organizations whose authorizations have been suspended or revoked
and whose accounts have been frozen has not changed. The Burundian authorities have not
rescinded the international arrest warrants issued against the leaders of such organizations.
The two laws adopted in January 2017 on Burundian non-profit organizations and foreign
non-governmental organizations have limited those entities’ freedom of association by
considerably strengthening the authorities’ control over their activities and resources. The
Commission has continued to document arbitrary arrests, prosecutions and severe sentences
against members of civil society organizations still operating in Burundi, as illustrated by
the April 2018 sentencing of Germain Rukuki to 32 years’ imprisonment following an
51. While the freedom of association is hampered in Burundi, its corollary, the freedom
not to associate, is also restricted. Many witnesses have reported that local officials of
CNDD-FDD and/or Imbonerakure have forced or attempted to force members of opposition
parties and persons with no political affiliation to join those two organizations. This
situation has given rise to threats, harassment, violence and, in some cases, killings or
52. Members of opposition parties have also been subjected to pressure and restrictions
that prevent them from holding public meetings, particularly in the context of the
referendum campaign. Several people reported that they had been forced to participate in
local meetings of CNDD-FDD.
(c) Freedom of movement
53. The Commission has noted that three types of interference with freedom of
movement have persisted: the use of “household record booklets” to keep track of
population movements; checkpoints in the vicinity of the country’s borders; and cases of
threats and harassment against persons whose family members have left Burundi. The
inspection of “household record booklets”, mainly by the police, has often given rise to
extortion. Checkpoints near the borders have been stepped up and such checks are often
carried out by Imbonerakure, sometimes in collaboration with the police. Cases of arbitrary
arrest, ill-treatment, extortion and threats at the checkpoints have been reported.
13 BBC subsequently apologized to the Government of Burundi.
54. In 2017 and 2018, freedom of movement was also hampered by roadblocks
throughout the country and checkpoints at the entrance to markets. Imbonerakure,
sometimes in collaboration with local governments, turned away persons who could not
show evidence that they had registered for the referendum or that they had paid
contributions for the 2020 elections or other levies.
D. Violations of economic and social rights
55. Political crises in Burundi have long had a direct impact on the enjoyment of
economic and social rights. The Arusha Agreement identifies the failure to satisfy the basic
needs of citizens as one of the causes of violence in Burundi.14 The crisis that broke out in
2015 was no exception. In 2016, Burundi went from a developing country to a country in a
state of humanitarian emergency.15 The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development Bank have all
recorded zero or negative economic growth in Burundi since 2015. This reversal is taking
place in a country where growth is structurally “low and volatile”16 owing to a lack of
diversification of the economy, which is based primarily on an agricultural sector that is
dominated by subsistence activities and dependent on the vagaries of exports and weather.
56. IMF noted that the country’s growth prospects for 2018 would remain weak owing
to internal conflicts, political constraints and governance and security challenges, as well as
high levels of public debt.17 Such debt, which has been rising again since 2015, reflects the
burden of general expenditure by the State18 and the fact that the country’s international
partners have continued to suspend direct budget support and to reduce their donations
significantly on account of repeated human rights violations in Burundi.
57. In response to this situation, the Government turned to domestic debt, which has
“exploded”19 since 2015, further weakening the economy. It has also introduced new taxes
and duties and has increased existing ones. For example, taxes on sugar and on fuel and
lubricants were raised by 33 per cent and 95 per cent, respectively, between 2015 and 2018.
Added to this was the contribution “for the 2020 elections”, which was established
extralegally in December 201720 and duplicates a provision in the State’s 2017 budget. This
contribution, which is payable by civil servants, households and students of voting age, has
in a number of cases been collected forcibly, in particular by Imbonerakure. This has led to
cases of ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention, threats, intimidation and persecution in
the event that a person is unwilling or unable to pay.
58. These levies, together with various ad hoc contributions imposed at the local level,
are impoverishing a population whose real per capita gross domestic product has shown
negative growth since 201521 and whose share of “non-poor” households was only 20.9 per
cent prior to the crisis. 22 Poverty is especially prevalent among households headed by
women who are single, widowed or divorced. 23 The population’s access to goods,
especially essential items imported from abroad, has been hindered by the rise in exchange
rates and inflation since 2015. In the space of two years, the number of people “in need”,
14 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi, protocol III, art. 2.
15 United Nations humanitarian country team.
16 UNDP, Risques et vulnérabilités du développement humain de la République du Burundi, Bujumbura,
17 IMF, Regional Economic Outlook: Sub-Saharan Africa. Fiscal Adjustment and Economic
Diversification, Washington, D.C., October 2017.
18 UNDP, Risques et vulnérabilités (see note 16).
20 Ordinance No. 530/540/1772.
21 IMF, Regional Economic Outlook (see note 17).
22 Cadre stratégique de croissance et de lutte contre la pauvreté, CSLP II: 2012–2015, Bilan de mise en
œuvre, UNDP, December 2016.
23 World Bank, Burundi Poverty Assessment, November 2016.
mainly in terms of health care, food, water, hygiene and sanitation, increased from 1
million to 3.6 million, representing more than 34 per cent of the population.24
59. Against this backdrop, the Government has not redirected its domestic resources to
give priority to social spending, the demand for which has risen steadily in a country whose
population of 10.5 million is likely to double by 2030.25 On the contrary, a review of the
annual State budgets shows that the amount of domestic resources devoted to defence and
security expenditures has risen faster than the amounts allocated to basic services other than
education. This situation has had a disproportionate impact on women because of their
specific needs with regard to services, including health services, and because the lack of
social services increases the burden of unpaid work borne by women within the family.26
60. By way of example, the budgets allocated to the National Intelligence Service, the
Special Brigade for the Protection of Institutions and the Unit for the Protection of
Institutions (Appui à la protection des institutions), some of whose members have been
identified by the Commission as being among the main perpetrators of human rights
violations, were increased by 12 per cent, 13.3 per cent and 47.6 per cent, respectively,
between 2015 and 2018, while the domestic resources provided to the Ministry of
Agriculture and Livestock were reduced by 27.4 per cent.27 What is more, corruption and
misappropriation of public funds among high-level authorities are further depleting the
resources that the State should be devoting to efforts to safeguard the rights of the
population, especially with respect to food and health. Hundreds of people living with
AIDS are going without treatment, owing in particular to the dire shortage of certain items
in several of the country’s hospitals.
61. Recruitment of the population has had a direct impact on the economic and social
rights of individuals, including in schools, universities and professional circles. Some
teachers and students have been pressured or have been removed from their schools
because they refused to join CNDD-FDD, to pay the contribution for the 2020 elections or
to attend information meetings about the constitutional amendment. Others have had to
leave the country. Hiring decisions in the civil service and in public-private enterprises
have been dictated by whether or not the applicant belongs to CNDD-FDD. Trade unions
that are not affiliated with the majority party have come under threat and have difficulty
E. Dysfunction in the judicial system
62. An in-depth study of the judicial system28 has confirmed the long-standing lack of
judicial independence in Burundi, as the executive branch exercises institutional control
over judges and courts through its control of the Judicial Service Commission; most courts’
budgets are managed by the Government; judges are appointed and promoted in an
arbitrary manner; the principle that judges should have security of tenure is absent; and
judges are inadequately paid, creating a situation that is conducive to corruption.
Furthermore, the judicial system in Burundi does not have enough resources to function
properly, despite the recent construction and rehabilitation of courtrooms.
63. At the operational level, the Commission found examples of dysfunction in all
components of the criminal justice system. The executive branch frequently issues orders
and otherwise interferes with politically sensitive cases, either to protect members of
CNDD-FDD and the Imbonerakure by having them acquitted or released, or to have
opponents of the Government convicted and imprisoned. The use of the broadly and
vaguely defined offence of “undermining the internal security of the State” to prosecute
opponents has given rise to abuses. Interference by the authorities is sometimes
24 Humanitarian country team, Aperçu des besoins humanitaires au Burundi 2018, November 2017.
25 According to the World Bank, the annual population growth rate now stands at 3.1 per cent.
26 According to the World Bank, 90 per cent of the unpaid work done in Burundi is carried out by
women; see World Bank, Burundi Poverty Assessment (see note 23).
27 Calculated by the Commission.
28 See A/HRC/39/CRP.1.
accompanied by threats, including threats against the physical integrity of judges, and by
reprisals against judges if they do not follow instructions.
64. In cases involving political opponents, the rights of accused persons are routinely
violated at both the pretrial and the trial stages through restrictions on such persons’ access
to counsel or obstruction of the work of counsel. The right to a defence is also adversely
affected by the misuse of the flagrante delicto procedure, particularly in cases involving the
offence of “undermining the internal security of the State”, and the absence of an
institutionalized system of legal aid. The Commission also received several testimonies
indicating that lawyers have been subjected to intimidation.
65. The rules of criminal procedure are rarely observed: warrantless arrests of political
opponents are routinely carried out, pretrial detention is illegally extended and judges use
confessions made under torture as a basis for convicting defendants, over the objections of
defence counsel. Court decisions ordering the release of defendants are not always
respected. The inertia of the public prosecution service in most cases of human rights
violations and the reluctance of victims to seek redress, either because they have no faith in
the judicial system or because they have been threatened or intimidated, are impeding the
implementation of the right to an effective remedy29 and fostering impunity.
III. International crimes
A. Constituent elements and types of crimes
66. In view of the circumstances prevailing in 2017 and 2018, in particular the
persistence of human rights violations, the Commission has reasonable grounds to believe
that crimes against humanity continue to be committed in Burundi. The definition of such
crimes in article 7 (1) of the Rome Statute as “acts … committed as part of a widespread or
systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack”
continues to apply.
67. The attack involves the multiple commission of acts against a population consisting
primarily of civilians, pursuant to a State or organizational policy.30 In Burundi, it continues
to be the case that most of the victims are civilians, who are targeted mainly by the police,
the National Intelligence Service and the Imbonerakure because of their real or perceived
opposition to the Government and CNDD-FDD. The policy of the State is difficult to
distinguish from that of the majority party, as both are pursuing the same goal of keeping
CNDD-FDD and its leadership in power. The general public is regularly reminded of the
aim of this policy, as demonstrated by recent speeches made by President Nkurunziza and
statements made by representatives of CNDD-FDD at all levels, particularly in the context
of the referendum campaign (see para. 49).
68. The number of violations found in several provinces since 2017 and the multiplicity
of victims and perpetrators demonstrate the persistence of a widespread attack directed
against the civilian population. The systematic nature of the attack is also demonstrable,
given the existence of “patterns of crimes” constituting a “non-accidental repetition of
similar criminal conduct on a regular basis”.31
69. The attack continues to be carried out knowingly, as the perpetrators identified by
the Commission necessarily have an understanding of the context for their actions by
reason of their roles in the country’s political and security apparatus, as well as their
indoctrination within CNDD-FDD.
70. The Commission thus has reasonable grounds to believe that the crimes against
humanity which it identified previously (see A/HRC/36/54, paras. 69–74, and
29 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, art. 2.
30 Rome Statute, art. 7 (2) (a).
31 International Criminal Court, The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui,
decision of 30 September 2008.
A/HRC/36/54/Corr.1) continue to be committed in Burundi. These crimes include murder,
imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, rape and other forms
of sexual violence of comparable gravity, and persecution on political grounds. The
Commission remains cautious about describing the disappearances it has documented as
“enforced” within the meaning of this term under international criminal law, in view of the
difficulty, at the current stage of its investigations, of proving all the elements required
under the Rome Statute.32
B. Individual responsibility
71. The Commission has supplemented the list of alleged perpetrators of crimes against
humanity that it drew up during its initial mandate period, taking care to distinguish
between direct responsibility and the responsibility of military commanders and superiors.
The list remains confidential, in the interest of protecting the Commission’s sources and
respecting the principle of presumption of innocence. It will be turned over to the High
Commissioner for Human Rights at the end of the Commission’s mandate. In the
meantime, the Commission reserves the right to share it.
IV. Measures to protect civilians and prevent the recurrence of conflict
72. In the light of the foregoing, there is an urgent need to put an end to the human
rights violations and crimes against humanity which the Commission has reasonable
grounds to believe are continuing to be committed in Burundi. This imperative arises from
the responsibility to protect that lies first and foremost with the Burundian State, which
must take the necessary measures to ensure respect for human rights and to prosecute the
perpetrators of violations and abuses. It must also cooperate with the international human
rights mechanisms established by the Human Rights Council. Priority must be given to the
implementation of the recommendations made in January 2018 in the framework of the
third universal periodic review of Burundi and to cooperation with all special procedures
and treaty bodies that examine the situation in Burundi or request to visit the country.
73. In this regard, the Commission is concerned to note that, given the suspension since
October 2016 of the headquarters agreement of the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) office in Burundi; the limited deployment of
African Union observers, whose ability to operate in the country is hampered by the
absence of an agreement with the Government; and the Government’s recent lack of
cooperation in the implementation of Human Rights Council resolution 36/2, there are now
no independent international mechanisms in Burundi that are in a position to investigate
human rights violations. It is important for Burundi to reconsider its decision to withdraw
from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and to review the composition
and functioning of the Independent National Human Rights Commission to ensure that that
body respects the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion
and protection of human rights (the Paris Principles).
74. While putting an end to human rights violations remains a short-term imperative, in
the longer term it is also important to consider measures for preventing such violations. An
examination of the crisis that Burundi has been experiencing since 2015 reveals the root
causes, which persist to this day. The Commission has identified three main factors behind
the human rights crisis in Burundi: a narrowing of democratic space, especially since the
2010 elections; the incomplete and delayed implementation of the truth, justice and security
sector reform measures set out in the Arusha Agreement; and the shortage of land and
resources for a steadily increasing population.33 In this context, the struggle for power is
32 International Criminal Court, Elements of Crimes, The Hague, 2011, p. 11. See also
33 See A/HRC/39/CRP.1.
aimed at gaining and keeping control over these resources for the purpose of personal
enrichment and to fund activities to counter all opposition.
75. It is disturbing to observe that the findings set out in 2000 in the Arusha Agreement
still characterize the situation today. Article 4 of Protocol I to the Agreement describes the
Burundi conflict as “fundamentally political” and as resulting from “a struggle by the
political class to accede to and/or remain in power”. It also identifies impunity, the lack of a
sound development policy, failure to respect the principles of good governance and human
rights and the “non-acceptance of peaceful coexistence, diversity and pluralism” as causes
of violence and insecurity in Burundi.34
76. In order to prevent the recurrence of conflict in Burundi, as analysed in the Arusha
Agreement, the Commission wishes to highlight a number of measures that fall within its
mandate. These measures, which are outlined in the recommendations below, concern steps
to safeguard civil liberties; thoroughly reform the judicial system and, in the meantime,
consider establishing an independent mechanism empowered to investigate human rights
violations in Burundi and to try the alleged perpetrators; reform the security sector and
establish credible civilian oversight mechanisms; give priority to maximizing the allocation
of resources for improving the population’s enjoyment of economic and social rights; and
carry out reforms, particularly in the area of landownership, to safeguard the right to
V. Conclusions and recommendations
77. In the light of its investigations, the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi is in a
position to conclude that the serious human rights violations documented in the first
year of its mandate, including crimes against humanity, have persisted in 2017 and
2018. Such violations include cases of summary execution, disappearance (including
enforced disappearance), arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and other cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment, sexual violence, and violations of civil liberties such
as the freedoms of expression, association, assembly and movement (see
78. While the State entities that are most often implicated in these violations
continue to be the National Intelligence Service and the police, the Commission is
concerned about the growing role being played by the Imbonerakure in a situation in
which recruitment drives among the general public are being used as a means of
suppressing all opposition. The Burundian State is responsible for the violations
committed by Imbonerakure in this context.
79. Perpetrators of violations are operating in an overall climate of impunity. The
Commission has found that, as matters stand, the Burundian judicial system is both
unwilling and unable to identify and prosecute those responsible for violations.
80. The political crisis in Burundi has had a very negative impact on the country’s
economic and social situation and has fuelled an increase in poverty. The Government
has nonetheless imposed additional taxes and contributions, in contravention of the
right of all persons to an adequate standard of living, and has failed to devote the
greatest possible share of its domestic resources to the realization of economic and
81. In this context, the Commission continues to believe that the Arusha Agreement
must remain the basis for any settlement of the crisis in Burundi. The Commission is
especially concerned to note that there are no independent international mechanisms
in Burundi that are in a position to investigate human rights violations.
82. As the Government of Burundi has not yet implemented the recommendations
put forward by the Commission in its previous report (A/HRC/36/54), the
34 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi, protocol III, art. 2.
Commission reiterates those recommendations, in particular the ones contained in
paragraphs 86, 87, 111, 112, 113, 114 and 115.
83. The Commission recommends that the Human Rights Council extend the
mandate of the Commission for a period of one year, in view of:
(a) The persistence of serious human rights violations and abuses;
(b) The lack of action against perpetrators, especially the Imbonerakure,
some members of which have continued to be used by State agents for activities
contrary to human rights;
(c) The lack of other international mechanisms in a position to carry out
independent and thorough investigations into the human rights situation in Burundi.
84. The Commission also recommends that the Human Rights Council submit the
report and recommendations of the Commission to the United Nations Security
Council for its consideration.
85. The Commission recommends that the Government of Burundi take the
following measures as a matter of priority:
(a) Put an immediate end to the gross human rights violations being
committed by agents of the State and Imbonerakure;
(b) With the support of the international community, establish ad hoc
mechanisms with a mandate to investigate human rights violations and to prosecute
perpetrators of international crimes that are not being investigated by the
International Criminal Court;
(c) With the support of the international community, establish an
independent body with a mandate to investigate the cases of disappearance reported
since April 2015, locate potential mass graves, and exhume and identify the remains;
(d) Take measures to ensure that victims of torture and women survivors of
sexual violence have access to appropriate care, including free access to all sexual and
reproductive health services and to psychological support;
(e) Implement the Guidelines on Combating Sexual Violence and its
Consequences in Africa adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’
(f) Control price increases, in particular by reviewing duty and tax
increases that are undermining the population’s right to an adequate standard of
living and by abolishing contributions that disproportionately affect the poorest
(g) Cooperate with international human rights mechanisms, in particular
(i) Resuming the practice of allowing special procedures mandate holders to
conduct missions to Burundi;
(ii) Implementing the recommendations of the universal periodic review,
treaty bodies and special procedures, including by establishing a national
mechanism for reporting and follow-up;
(h) Authorize the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights to resume all its activities in Burundi without hindrance;
(i) Sign and implement the memorandum of understanding with the
African Union and permit the full deployment of the 100 human rights observers
provided for therein.
86. For the medium and longer terms, the Commission also recommends that the
Government of Burundi:
(a) Amend the Organization Act of 8 March 2018 amending Act No. 01/03 of
24 January 2013 on the mandate, composition, organization and functioning of the
National Communication Council with a view to ensuring the latter’s independence;
(b) Ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons
from Enforced Disappearance;
(c) Amend the Code of Criminal Procedure to align its provisions with
international standards, in particular the provisions on time limits for police custody
and on oversight of detention, night-time and warrantless searches, the flagrante
delicto procedure and the offence of “undermining the internal security of the State”,
and provisions that grant de jure impunity to judges and to officers of the criminal
investigation police (police judiciaire);
(d) Put an end to arbitrary detention and improve conditions of detention
(i) Implementing the Guidelines on the Conditions of Arrest, Police Custody
and Pre-Trial Detention in Africa adopted by the African Commission on
Human and Peoples’ Rights;
(ii) Ensuring that detention is subject to oversight measures for assessing its
legality and compatibility with human rights;
(e) In the absence of an independent and efficient judicial system, cooperate
fully with the International Criminal Court in the investigation opened on 25 October
(f) Undertake an in-depth reform of the judicial system to ensure its
independence, impartiality and effectiveness, including by:
(i) Implementing the Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial
and Legal Assistance in Africa adopted by the African Commission on Human
and Peoples’ Rights;
(ii) Publishing the conclusions of the national forum on the justice system
held in 2013 and convening a meeting of justice-sector stakeholders and
international partners to discuss follow-up action;
(iii) Increasing the budget for the justice sector and ensuring that it is
(iv) Raising the pay levels of judges in the ordinary courts and increasing the
resources and facilities available to them;
(v) Computerizing court registries;
(vi) Reviewing the composition of the Judicial Service Commission to ensure
that the majority of its members are appointed by their peers;
(vii) Reviewing procedures for the appointment, assignment, evaluation and
promotion of judges to ensure that such procedures are not dependent on the
(viii) Ensuring strict observance of the principle that judges should have
security of tenure;
(ix) Protecting and safeguarding the independence of the judiciary by
prohibiting any interference in the administration of justice by government
authorities, members of the ruling party or members of the defence and
security forces, and imposing penalties on anyone who influences or seeks to
influence the administration of justice;
(x) Developing legal aid programmes for persons belonging to the most
(xi) Strengthening victim and witness protection mechanisms and improving
their effectiveness in order to restore public trust and encourage witnesses to
come forward without fear for their safety;
(g) In consultation with the beneficiaries, establish a reparations
programme for victims of human rights violations, ensuring that material, symbolic,
individual and collective reparations are made available regardless of whether or not
the perpetrators are convicted;
(h) Establish the State fund for victims of torture provided for by law, in
conformity with general comment No. 4 on the African Charter on Human and
Peoples’ Rights, adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,
concerning the right to redress for victims of torture and other cruel, inhuman or
degrading punishment or treatment (art. 5);
(i) Establish a compensation fund for victims of arbitrary and unlawful
(j) Reform the security sector by:
(i) Ensuring that outsiders are not involved in defence or security activities;
(ii) Clearly defining the roles of the various defence and security forces, in
particular the National Intelligence Service;
(iii) Suspending members of the defence and security forces who are
suspected of involvement in human rights violations until the relevant
investigations and judicial proceedings have concluded;
(iv) Establishing rigorous and transparent selection procedures that include
(v) Strengthening democratic civilian control over the defence and security
forces, in particular the National Intelligence Service;
(k) Meet its international obligations to respect, protect and fulfil economic
and social rights by:
(i) Developing and implementing State budgets in such a way as to
maximize the use of available resources to ensure that the human rights of the
sectors impoverished by the political crisis are respected, in particular the
rights to food, water and health care, and to develop indicators disaggregated
by factors such as gender in order to better inform its policies;
(ii) In consultation with population groups working in the agricultural
sector, including women, undertaking reforms with the aim of better protecting
women’s rights and making better use of land for agriculture, and developing
employment opportunities outside the agricultural sector;
(iii) Taking a rights-based approach to the settlement of land conflicts,
including those involving persons who fled Burundi either before or after 2015;
(iv) Ending the inclusion of any political considerations in hiring processes
for the civil service, State enterprises and public-private enterprises.
87. The Commission recommends that political parties and armed opposition
groups refrain from engaging in any attacks on Burundian territory and from any
speech calling for violence, and that they join the effort to find a lasting solution to the
88. The Commission recommends that the African Union, in its efforts to find a
lasting solution to the crisis in Burundi, give priority to respect for human rights and
the rejection of impunity, as provided for in its Constitutive Act.
89. The Commission recommends that the technical and financial partners of
(a) Suspend, or maintain the suspension of, any direct budget support to the
Government until such time as priority is given to the allocation of domestic resources
for the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals and the economic and social
rights of the population, and effective measures are taken against corruption;
(b) Ensure that grants and financing provided to the Government are
earmarked for projects to meet the population’s needs, and ensure that such funding
is managed effectively and transparently;
(c) Regularly evaluate the impact of financial sanctions on the people of
90. The Commission recommends that the guarantors of the Arusha Agreement, in
their capacity as committed proponents of a lasting peace in Burundi, continue to seek
a durable solution to the political and human rights crisis that will preserve and
safeguard the achievements of the Arusha Agreement.
Map of Burundi
Correspondence with the Government of Burundi
1. Note verbale sent to the Permanent Mission of Burundi on 10 October 2017
2. Note verbale sent to the Permanent Mission of Burundi on 30 November 2017,
transmitting a letter addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International
Cooperation of Burundi
3. Note verbale sent to the Permanent Mission of Burundi on 11 January 2018
4. Letter sent to the Permanent Mission of Burundi on 2 March 2018
5. Note verbale sent to the Permanent Mission of Burundi on 13 March 2018
6. Note verbale sent to the Permanent Mission of Burundi on 26 June 2018