Killings still rife in Burundi but African states op­pose ICC ‘help’

The East African - - NEWS - By MOSES HAVYARIMANA Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

SINCE JULY 2015, when Pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­iza ran for a con­tro­ver­sial pres­i­den­tial third term, bru­tal killings of lead­ers and civil­ians have continued un­abated.

De­spite the coun­try gain­ing rel­a­tive sta­bil­ity, tar­geted killings by “un­known” crim­i­nals con­tinue to be re­ported coun­try­wide ac­cord­ing to the gov­ern­ment.

For the past three months, more than 20 peo­ple have been killed in grenade at­tacks in public places, homes and bod­ies have been found dumped on the streets with tell tale signs of tortue.

The United Na­tions Com­mis­sion of In­quiry on Burundi re­cently called on the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court to open an in­quiry into the al­leged hu­man rights abuses made in the coun­try since 2015. The call came af­ter the Com­mis­sion re­leased a re­port in­di­cat­ing in­creased vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights in the coun­try.

How­ever, last week, African coun­tries launched an ini­tia­tive at the United Na­tions block­ing the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court from in­ves­ti­gat­ing pos­si­ble hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions in the coun­try.

The coun­tries, in­stead de­vel­oped a res­o­lu­tion that praised Burundi for wish­ing to en­gage in dia­logue and co-op­er­ate with the UN on the same.

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and some op­po­si­tion mem­bers have been vic­tims of the tar­geted at­tacks and forced dis­ap­pear­ances in the coun­try. Ear­lier this month four peo­ple were shot dead by un­known armed group in a Bu­jum­bura neigh­bour­hood while brew­ing il­licit al­co­hol.

“Some of th­ese crim­i­nals have been ar­rested and some at­tacks are not po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated but we are wait­ing for the in­ves­ti­ga­tions to be con­cluded for us to know the rea­sons be­hind them,” said Burundi po­lice spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye.

“Any per­son who com­mits a crime in Burundi is pun­ished, and this shows that this is not true. We have seen many crimes that were com­mit­ted by in­sur­gents and the Burundi po­lice and they were pun­ished,” said the Burundi Jus­tice Min­is­ter Lau­ren­tine Kanyana.

Ac­cord­ing to the gov­ern­ment, more than 500 peo­ple have been killed since 2015, when the po­lit­i­cal cri­sis erupted and which led to hun­dreds of thou­sands civil­ians flee­ing the coun­try.

“In gen­eral, im­punity still pre­vails in Burundi,” said Burundi op­po­si­tion leader and the deputy speaker of par­lia­ment Agathon Rwasa.

We have seen many crimes that were com­mit­ted by in­sur­gents and the Burundi po­lice and they were pun­ished.” Jus­tice Min­is­ter Lau­ren­tine Kanyana

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