Burundi has banned three members of the UN Commission of Inquiry from entering the country following a controversial report, accusing President Pierre Nkurunziza’s ruling party of committing crimes against humanity.
Burundi’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Ezechiel Nibigira has described the UN report as highly careless and said the East African Nation was disappointed “with the content of the false and defamatory report that the Commission of Inquiry made public”.
The three members declared persona non grata are the Commission’s chief Doudou Diène, Lucy Asuagbor and Francoise Hampson.
The report, released last week, said the ruling party’s youth league ‘Imbonerakure’ had “become increasingly important in the repression, outside any legal framework and with near total impunity.”
It said serious human rights violations, including some which constitute crimes against humanity, have continued to be committed in Burundi, in 2017 and 2018, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Burundi said in a report on Thursday.
Many Burundians fled their country in 2015 following violence triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s
decision to seek a third term which won later. Some Burundians still remain in exile as refugees, saying it’s not yet safe for them to go back home.
In its report, the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi describes summary executions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, sexual violence and forced disappearances.
The Commission is also concerned with the shrinking democratic space in Burundi as well as the growing impoverishment of the population.
“The violations that the Commission documented in its first report have persisted throughout the past year.
Some practices, such as the disposal of bodies or operating at night, tend to make these violations less visible,” Doudou Diène, the President of the Commission of Inquiry said.
“The Constitutional Referendum organized in May 2018 and the campaign for the upcoming elections in 2020 have resulted in persecution, threats and intimidation towards persons suspected of opposing the government or not sharing the ruling party’s line, whether proven or not.”
The Commission says their findings are based on approximately 900 statements of victims of human rights violations, witnesses and alleged perpetrators of such acts, including 400 statements collected this past year.
This year, the government has once again refused any dialogue and cooperation with the Commission of Inquiry, despite repeated requests and initiatives from the Commission.
“The members of the youth league of the ruling party, the Imbonerakure, have become increasingly important in the repression, outside any legal framework and with near total impunity,” the report said.
Burundians authorities have repeatedly denied its security agencies torture its citizens. The Commission has called on all the Burundian stakeholders concerned to put an immediate end to human rights violations and abuses.