Human rights violations have persisted in Burundi, over a year after President Evariste Ndayishimiye assumed the country’s highest office, a global rights group said on Friday, a claim denied by the government.
In a statement, Human Rights Watch said that in Cibitoke province, Burundian intelligence services, security forces, and members of the ruling party’s youth league have “allegedly killed, disappeared, and tortured real or perceived political opponents and people suspected of having ties with Burundian rebels in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.”
People crossing the Rusizi River to travel between DR Congo and Burundi’s Cibitoke province for personal business have apparently been reported missing, and their fate remains unknown, the statement said.
“The combination of rampant corruption, impunity for past abuses, and a crippled judiciary has created the perfect storm for police, national intelligence, and Imbonerakure members to apparently kill, torture, disappear, and steal without consequences,” Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch said in the statement.
Burundi government Prosper Ntahorwamiye spokesman declined to comment when contacted by Anadolu Agency.
However, in a Twitter post, Burundi’s Foreign Minister Albert Shingiro said the report was “politically motivated” and that his government ensures the promotion of human rights and good governance.
The UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, established in Sep. 2016 to document alleged human rights violations in the country, concluded on Thursday that “serious human rights violations have continued to be committed by State officials and members of the Imbonerakure (ruling party’s youth league) with the acquiescence of authorities or even at their instigation.”
The Central African country was embroiled in a political crisis that followed the election in 2015 when late former President Pierre Nkurunziza sought a third term in office.
More than 330,000 Burundians fled to Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and DR Congo, following the political crisis, according to the UN.
Under Nkurunziza, the UN Human Rights office was closed and Burundi became the first country to withdraw from the International Criminal Court.
According to the UN Commission, although Ndayishimiye pledged to end impunity and corruption, and made some attempts to rein in the Imbonerakure, reports of killings, enforced disappearances, and torture continue across the country.
“The human rights situation in Burundi remains grave, and the absence of an international investigation would only allow the authorities to hide the abuse from sight,” Mudge said.
“If the Burundian government is serious about reform, it should give external investigators access to the country and work with them to ensure that abusers are held accountable,” he added.