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.
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.
Human Rights Watch wants United Nations Security Council to deploy international police to Burundi with a strong protection mandate and set up an international commission of inquiry to investigate torture and other grave abuses.
Since April, 2016, Human Rights Watch has interviewed more than 40 torture victims from nine provinces and the capital, Bujumbura.
“For security reasons, Human Rights Watch is not making public the names of interviewees and other information. Intelligence officials told some detainees they would be killed if they spoke about their treatment and ordered others to lie or promise not to talk to human rights groups” reads part of the report.