UN Urges International Criminal Court to Probe Burundi Abuses

A United Nations commission urged the International Criminal Court to investigate possible crimes against humanity committed in Burundi, saying it had compiled a list of alleged perpetrators of violence during the country’s two-year crisis.

The UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi has reasonable grounds to believe “serious human-rights violations and abuses” have been committed in the East African country since April 2015, its chairman, Fatsah Ouguergouz, said Tuesday in Geneva. The abuses included torture, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and rape, with most victims being opponents of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government, he said.

Fatsah Ouguergouz

Photographer: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The commission has drawn up a “non-exhaustive list of alleged perpetrators of these crimes against humanity, together with information on certain acts they allegedly committed or ordered,” although this won’t be published in order to respect the presumption of innocence and protect witnesses, Ouguergouz said.

Landlocked Burundi has been roiled by violence that’s left hundreds of people dead and forced more than 400,000 to flee their homes since April 2015, when Nkurunziza announced he was seeking a third term. Opposition parties said his re-election violated a two-term limit set out in accords that ended a civil war. A crackdown on protests was followed by sporadic attacks on military and government officials.

The commission’s findings were based on several months of investigations that involved interviews with more than 500 witnesses. Burundi’s government rejected the initial findings when they were published Sept. 4, describing them as an attempt at regime change.

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