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.
The Committee also raised its concerns about attempts to have four lawyers who contributed to a civil society report to the CAT struck off the professional register.
“Burundi’s unwillingness to cooperate with the UN on such a crucial issue is deeply worrying, and its reprisals against lawyers who provided information to the Committee are totally unacceptable,” said Sarah Jackson.
“The Burundian authorities need to step up to their responsibilities by implementing the Committee’s recommendations, and end the impunity that continues to have a devastating and chilling effect.”
The UN Committee also asked Burundi to provide another special report on implementation of all its recommendations, by 12 October 2016.
Its full observations and all documents relating to the review of Burundi’s report can be found here: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1084&Lang=en
Amnesty International’s submission to the Committee is available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/afr16/4377/2016/en/