A United Nations-appointed expert panel will ask the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation into possible crimes against humanity in Burundi. According to the Commission’s report, crimes such as extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, sexual violence, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and enforced disappearances have been committed – and continue unabated. In view of the impunity protecting the perpetrators, the Commission said that it is asking the ICC to open an investigation into the crimes as soon as possible.
It is also asking the African Union to retake the initiative to find a lasting solution, based on respect for human rights, to the crisis in Burundi and to remain actively involved. Among the alleged perpetrators, the Commission mentions members, including high-level officials, of the National Intelligence Services and the national police force, military officials, and Imbonerakure – the youth league of the ruling party.
The Commission said Nkurunziza’s policies, pouring resources into security at the expense of social services, increasing debt and the burden on women looking after families, had turned Burundi from a developing country to a humanitarian emergency.
Rwanda is considering withdrawing from the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), questioning the body’s role and impact in the prevention of insecurity in the region. Rwanda blames ICGLR for its failure to hold Burundi accountable in 2015, following allegations that Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels had crossed into Burundi from eastern DR Congo and joined ranks with the youth wing of Burundi’s ruling party CNDD-FDD. The ICGLR has its headquarters in Bujumbura, Burundi, a country that has had frosty relations with Rwanda since 2015 following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial third term presidential election.
At the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), Prime Minister Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi was not present. Instead, he was presented by his second vice-president, Joseph Butore.