More crimes against humanity were committed in Burundi in 2017 and 2018, whipped up by rhetoric from top officials including President Pierre Nkurunziza, a U.N. human rights report said.
Burundi has tried and failed to stop the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, set up by the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2016, and refuses to cooperate with it. The commission said last year that officials at the highest level were responsible for crimes against humanity.
“The Commission has reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity continue to be committed in Burundi,” the Commission’s latest report said.
“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.”
Nkurunziza’s spokesman and Burundi’s human rights minister declined to make an immediate comment.
Burundi has been seized by violence since early 2015 when Nkurunziza said he would seek a third term, widely seen as a breach of the constitution.
Clashes between security forces and rebels left hundreds dead and forced about half a million to flee — rattling a region still haunted by the memories of the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda, which has a similar ethnic mix to Burundi.
Burundi’s long-serving President Pierre Nkurunziza promised on Thursday to step down when his term ends in 2020, easing fears of fresh violence in the impoverished country.
Nkurunziza had been widely expected to take advantage of recent changes to the constitution to stand for two more terms – raising concerns that Burundi would see a repeat of the unrest that erupted after he stood for a third time in 2015.
“My term is ending in 2020” – he said a ceremony.
“This constitution was not modified for Pierre Nkurunziza as the country’s enemies have been saying. It was amended for the good and better future of Burundi and the Burundian people,” he said in the speech broadcast on state television.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders welcomes the announcement by the President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza of the end of his mandate in 2020. The principle of democratic alternation lies at the heart of the Arusha Accords and of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
Following this announcement, Belgium hopes that the authorities of Burundi will now start working on opening up the public and democratic space, as an essential step towards the elections in 2020. Belgium therefore pleads for a resumption of an inclusive dialogue, under the aegis of the region and in the spirit of the Arusha agreement. Minister Reynders has decided to send his Special Envoy for the Great Lakes to Burundi to bring this message.
The overwhelming majority of Burundi voters (73%) approved a new constitution, the country’s electoral commission said on Monday (21/05/2018), ushering in changes that could let the president stay in power to 2034.
Already ahead of the vote a number of independent experts have expressed concerns about a possibility for President Pierre Nkurunziza to become an ‘eternal’ leader of the nation
Last week’s referendum asked voters to say “yes” or “no” to amendments extending the presidential term from five to seven years and allowing President Pierre Nkurunziza to seek two more terms beginning in 2020.
La récente session de la médiation organisée par la Communauté des Etats de l’Afrique centrale à Arusha sur la situation au Burundi n’a pas permis de parvenir à des conclusions conjointes.
L’Union européenne renouvèle son appel au dialogue entre tous les acteurs burundais qui est la seule voie possible pour établir une solution durable à la crise politique et exprime son plein soutien aux efforts de médiation en cours.
Dans ce contexte, le lancement d’un processus de révision constitutionnelle de manière unilatérale par le gouvernement comporte plusieurs risques. Il va à contre courant des efforts de concertation et pourrait conduire à l’abandon de dispositions clés de l’Accord de paix d’Arusha, qui reste à ce jour le principal instrument pour la paix et la stabilité du Burundi et de la région.
L’Union européenne rappelle qu’un engagement sincère et sérieux de tous les acteurs burundais, en particulier du gouvernement, soutenu par les pays de la région, est nécessaire à la réussite de la mission confiée au Président Mkapa.