Burundi: Embracing Impunity in Burundi
Human Rights Watch
13 October 2016
The vote by Burundi’s National Assembly and Senate approving withdrawal from the International Criminal Court is the latest move by a government intent on shielding its poor human rights record from international scrutiny.
Earlier this year, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened a probe to determine if the ICC should step in and prosecute extrajudicial executions, torture, rape, and enforced disappearances that have characterized Burundi’s current crisis. The country has become increasingly lawless in recent months; arbitrary arrests continue and members of the youth wing of the ruling party have set up roadblocks to extort money and harass people who don’t pay. The Burundian justice system has done almost nothing to address these abuses.
Despite the hundreds of people who have been viciously killed and tortured, the justice system, deeply corrupt and manipulated by the ruling party, almost never properly investigates cases.
If Burundi makes good on its threats to leave the court, it would be the first of the ICC’s 124 member countries to do so. Behind the rhetoric is a crude attempt to protect members of the police, military, and intelligence services who have committed the worst crimes. Their victims deserve justice, not a government that looks to hide abuses and protect perpetrators.