UN reports surge in arrests and killings in Burundi
Tuesday September 29 2015
The UN has reported an increase in arrests, detention and killings in Burundi since the beginning of September.
“Almost every day, dead bodies are found lying on the streets of some of Bujumbura’s neighbourhoods. In many cases, the victims appear to have been killed by a bullet fired at close range. The bodies sometimes show signs of torture and are typically found with their hands tied behind their backs,” the UN Human rights high commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said.
Mr Zeid said that according to the report, many of the people had been arrested by the police or by the National Intelligence Agency (SNR) prior to their deaths.
However the Burundian government had recently accused some opposition and civil society leaders, who led protests against the incumbent’s third term of causing instability in the country.
READ: Burundi issues arrest warrants for activists
“Those who organized protests and the 13th May coup plotters are all behind these continued targeted assassinations that continue to be witnessed in the country, we have now issued arrest warrants to those who were involved in organizing the protests,” said the Burundi’s attorney general Valentine Bagorikunda.
Mr Bagorikunda said that the same leaders are also accused of destroying property worth $33 million dollars.
According to the United Nations Human rights Rights Office, 134 people have been killed as hundreds of cases of arbitrary arrest and detention, including 704 arrests since the beginning of September alone.
“We have seen an intensification of search operations allegedly aimed at seizing illegal weapons, in specific neighbourhoods of Bujumbura and in other parts of the country,” the UN commissioner said.
“Young adults seem to be particularly targeted, with many of them alleging they were accused by the authorities of intending to join rebel groups based in neighbouring countries.”
The UN official said police often surround a specific neighbourhood, blocking all entry and exit points while they carry out their searches, the searches he says may last for several days raising serious concerns with regard to freedom of movement.
The report by the UN presented in Geneva indicated that a large number of arrests have resulted in overcrowding and deteriorating living conditions in prisons.
The report indicated some 87 civilians illegally detained in Mabanda military camp in Makamba province that were finally either released or transferred to a regular prison, following advocacy efforts by the UN Human Rights team on the ground.
The watchdog also expressed concern at the situation of 52 minors who are detained alongside adults during the day in Rumonge Central Prison. He urged the Burundian authorities to transfer them to a nearby re-education centre for children.
The report noted that the security situation negatively affects the daily lives of ordinary citizens, especially when it comes to their rights to education and health, and has further weakened the country’s already fragile economy.