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Burundi: UN Torture Committee Deplores Lack Of Cooperation In Torture Complaints Procedure

GENEVA (21 December 2021) - The UN Committee against Torture has deplored Burundi’s lack of cooperation in the individual complaints procedure and its failure to implement the Committee’s decisions in all cases where human rights violations were found.

In its latest decision published today, the Committee found that R.M., a political activist for Mouvement pour la solidarité et la démocratie (MSD), was a victim of torture in 2014 when the Burundian authorities routinely denied public assemblies ahead of the 2015 elections.

In March 2014, R.M. was shot and injured when heavily armed police officers stormed into the MSD meeting that he was attending. He escaped the raid but was arrested and beaten by the police the next day. R.M. also said that during his detention, he was denied necessary medical treatment prescribed by his doctor.

He filed complaints about the acts of torture in Burundi but the authorities did not open any investigation. He then brought his case to the Committee in 2017.

The Committee invited Burundi to submit its comments about R.M.’s complaint on several occasions in 2017, 2019 and 2020 but the State party did not respond.

Based on the evidence provided by the complainant, the Committee determined that Burundi had failed to prevent and investigate R.M.’s torture. In addition, it also found Burundi’s lack of cooperation during the proceeding constituted a clear breach of the State party’s obligations under Article 22 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which allows the Committee to examine individual complaints. Burundi accepted the individual complaints procedure in June 2003, thereby undertaking the international obligation to engage with this procedure.

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“We are gravely concerned that Burundi has repeatedly ignored our requests to communicate during the complaint examination. Burundi also failed to cooperate in the follow-up procedure in previous cases where the Committee found violations of the Convention,” said Committee Chair Claude Heller.

“This is a serious violation of the State’s obligations. But most importantly, it deprives torture victims of obtaining redress,” he added.

R.M.’s case is the latest among 14 torture complaints against Burundi that have been examined by the Committee since 2014. The Committee found the State party had violated its obligations to the Convention in all these cases. Burundi, however, provided follow-up information on the measures taken to implement the Committee’s decisions only on one of those decisions.

The Committee urged Burundi to comply with its treaty obligations and to resume dialogue in order to ensure the proper implementation of the Convention. The Committee will continue to review this serious situation during its next session.

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