Burundi’s intelligence services are torturing suspected opposition supporters with “increasingly vicious” methods, including the use of pliers and melted plastic, Human Rights Watch said.
The New York-based advocacy group said Thursday that interviews with at least 40 torture victims since April show that ill-treatment has become more widespread and torture techniques increasingly brutal. It urged the United Nations Security Council to set up a commission to investigate the abuses and authorize the deployment of an international police force in Burundi.
“Intelligence agents treat suspected opponents horrifically because they know they can get away with it,” the group’s Africa director, Daniel Bekele, said in the report. Burundi’s government plans to respond “soon” to the allegations, spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba said by phone.
Police and members of the ruling party’s youth division have also committed serious abuses across the East African nation and detained people at border crossings with Rwanda, the group said. The division, known as Imbonerakure, is allowed to operate “outside the law,” according to the report.
The UN documented about 350 summary executions and 651 cases of torture in Burundi in the 12 months to April 2016, according to a report last month. The landlocked country has been gripped by violence since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided in April 2015 to run for a third term, a move his opponents said was unconstitutional. Plans by the African Union to send peacekeepers didn’t materialize after Nkurunziza objected.