Burundi off International News Headlines but Human Rights Violations Continue—Watchdog

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Rights Watchdog has appealed to the United Nations Human Rights Council members meeting in Geneva this week to adopt a resolution to address the deepening human rights crisis in Burundi

Human Rights Watch says although Burundi has slipped off international news headlines, killings, disappearances, and torture continue unabated in the East African Community member country, and those responsible are getting away with it.

A report by UN independent investigation team in Burundi released last week found that “gross human rights violations have and are taking place, committed primarily by State agents.

The report which reviewed the period between April 2015 to June 2016 says even though the level of overt violence has declined, the overall level of oppression and control over the society has increased, manifested by arbitrary deprivations of life, enforced disappearances coupled with credible allegations of unacknowledged places of detention, in addition to cases of torture, other forms of ill-treatment and arbitrary detention on a massive scale.

Human rights watch says although Burundian government is still flatly denying the gravity of the situation, there is abundant evidence from the UN, Human Rights Watch, and Burundian activists that the atrocities are ongoing.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly in New York last week, Burundi Foreign Minister Alain Nyamitwe said: “I stand before you today to reiterate Burundi’s unwavering commitment to human rights,”.

He would later proceed to “categorically reject the purposefully and politically exaggerated reports on alleged human rights violations in Burundi.”

“The government’s refusal to acknowledge the human rights crisis is deeply disturbing. The more it tries to cover up mounting state abuses, the more skepticism deepens about its willingness to hold perpetrators to account” Human Rights Watch said.

The UN investigation team has proposed that a commission of inquiry “should be mandated to ensure individual accountability.” Human Rights Watch fully supports this proposal, as the Burundian justice system has failed to deliver credible justice.

“All states should support the Human Rights Council resolution for a commission of inquiry into crimes committed in Burundi since April 2015. Not only would this be an unequivocal show of solidarity with the many victims, but it will also offer them hope that, one day, justice will be done” Human rights watch said.