Burundi | Crimes warrant ICC investigation and Human Rights Council suspension


In the face of mounting evidence of crimes against humanity committed with impunity by Burundian authorities, 35 African and international NGOs call on the Human Rights Council to push for investigation and prosecution by the International Criminal Court and for Burundi's Council membership. This call was further elaborated by ISHR in a statement to the Council this week.

A Council-mandated Commission of Inquiry, reporting at the current September session, has confirmed the continuation of serious human rights violations from April 2015 to date.

Documented violations include extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, enforced disappearances and sexual violence. These crimes have been perpetrated mainly by the National Intelligence Service (SNR), members of the Imbonerakure (the youth wing of the ruling party), the police and the army.

The Commission of Inquiry has also expressed grave concern that, since the beginning of the crisis, Burundi’s once vocal and vibrant human rights organisations and independent media have been decimated and forced into exile.

The government of Burundi has refused to cooperate with the Commission, suspended its cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the country, and sought to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, undermining efforts to prevent further violence and fuelling a cycle of impunity. 

According to the open letter by 35 NGOs, 'given Burundi’s persistent refusal to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council and the gross and systematic violations of human rights occurring in the country', States should take action at the current session towards suspending Burundi’s membership.

In light of the gravity and continuation of violations in Burundi, together with the government's failure to ensure accountability and the denial of justice to victims, the NGOs also urge the 36th session of the Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry so that it can continue its vital work.

This call was reiterated in a statement (also available in French ) made to the UN Human Rights Council on 19 September, which called for the suspension of Burundi's Council membership due to its gross human rights violations and refusal to cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms.

'It is important that the Council recommends with no delay the suspension of Burundi's membership to the UN General Assembly'', said ISHR's Africa Advocacy Director Clement N.Voule.

Photo: Jean-Pierre Aime Harerimama/Reuters


  • Africa
  • Human rights defenders
  • UN Human Rights Council
  • Burundi