Republic of Burundi
Head of state and government Pierre Nkurunziza
The cycle of impunity remained unbroken and the government did not fully investigate and prosecute extrajudicial executions from previous years. Promising signs that the government would establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2012 faded progressively throughout the year. Human rights defenders and journalists faced repression because of their work.
The ruling party, the National Council for Defence of Democracy-Forces for Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), was able to govern without any effective opposition engagement. The ruling party and ADC-Ikibiri, the coalition of opposition parties which withdrew from the 2010 elections, did not engage in meaningful dialogue.
Following an increase in the cost of living, Burundian civil society organized a national campaign to call to account the economic practice of the government.
UN human rights monitors recorded 30 extrajudicial executions during 2012. The figure was lower than in 2010 and 2011, when a total of 101 extrajudicial executions were recorded. Most of the 2012 killings seemed not to have been politically motivated; however, impunity persisted.
A Commission of Inquiry was established by the Public Prosecutor in June to investigate allegations of extrajudicial executions and torture reported by Burundian and international human rights organizations and the UN. The Commission’s report, made public in August, accepted that killings had occurred but denied that they were extrajudicial. It stated that judicial case files had been opened for certain cases reported by human rights organizations. Following the report, two police officers, an army major, a local administrator and several Imbonerakure (youth members affiliated to the ruling party) were arrested; no trials took place, however. Concerns remained that not all perpetrators had been held to account.
Truth and reconciliation
No progress was made to investigate and establish the truth behind grave violations of human rights committed between 1962 and 2008. A revised draft law establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was submitted to parliament but was not discussed.
The draft law left open the possibility of amnesties, including for those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions. It did not specify that the Special Tribunal, the judicial mechanism that will follow the TRC, should have an independent prosecutor who can investigate and prosecute cases referred by the TRC as well as new cases.
The recruitment of judges through the Ministry of Justice was not conducted in a public and transparent way, leaving the process open to accusations of corruption and political bias. According to the law, the Minister of Justice must organize a competitive examination to decide on candidates.
The justice system remained weak and politicized and the authorities failed to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice.
- The May verdict in the trial of those accused of killing anti-corruption activist Ernest Manirumva, murdered in 2009, failed to deliver justice. The prosecution did not consider recommendations from the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to require high-ranking police and intelligence officers implicated by witnesses to be questioned and DNA tested. The decision of the Appeal Court of Bujumbura was pending at the year’s end.
Freedom of expression – journalists and human rights defenders
Journalists and human rights defenders reported harassment and intimidation by the authorities.