Spotlight on Burundi

Timeline: Burundi


2015

12 Nov

The UN Security Council condemns increasing killings, torture and other human rights violations in Burundi. Through the unanimous adoption of Resolution 2248 (2015), the Council calls on the Government and all parties to reject violence, demanding that all sides refrain from any action that threatens peace and stability.


17 Dec

The UN Human Rights Council creates the United Nations Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB) to investigate violations and abuses of human rights in Burundi, with a view to preventing further deterioration of the human rights situation.


17 Dec

The UN announces that Lieutenant Colonel Gaspard Baratuza, spokesman for the Burundi military who was preparing to become the spokesman for the UN mission in Central African Republic (MINUSCA), would not assume his post in the UN peacekeeping mission. In his role as spokesman for the Burundi military, Baratuza was accused of defending human rights violations.


2016

16 Feb

The Secretary-General's annual Special Measures report on sexual exploitation and abuse notes that in 2015, there was one allegation involving a Burundian military personnel accused of sexual activity involving a minor, in MINUSCA. There was also an allegation involving a Burundian police personnel accused of sexual assault, in the UN mission to Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI).


24 April

The International Criminal Court opens a preliminary examination into the situation in Burundi. The chief prosecutor of the ICC notes the prevalence of "acts of killing, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as cases of enforced disappearances," which "appear to fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC."


3 June

The UN decides not to replace 280 police officers from Burundi following the conclusion of their tours of duty. The UN's decision was made "given the current allegations of serious and ongoing human rights violations in Burundi," according to Stefan Feller, then the top police adviser for UN peacekeeping. Some 840 Burundian military troops will continue serving in the Central African Republic.


17 June

In a report to the Human Rights Council, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein details sexual violence and other human rights violations committed by government forces in Burundi.


5 Aug

The UN Deputy Spokesperson denies that Burundian Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Mayuyu is serving in the Central African Republic. Mayuyu had run a military detention center in Bujumbura for military and civilian dissidents.


24 Aug

The UN concedes that Lieutenant Colonel Mayuyu has been serving as a peacekeeper in the Central African Republic. It is announced that he will be repatriated.


20 Sept

In its final report, the UN Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB) describes “abundant evidence of gross human rights violations,” possibly amounting to crimes against humanity, by the Government of Burundi and people associated with it. It calls for the phasing out of Burundian troops in peacekeeping while the crisis continues.


30 Sept

The UN Human Rights Council establishes a Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, to conduct a thorough investigation of human rights violations and abuses committed in Burundi since April 2015, identify alleged perpetrators, and make recommendations.


26 Oct

Burundi informs UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of its decision to quit the International Criminal Court, as required under the ICC's Rome Statute for formal withdrawal. Under the Statute, withdrawal does not come into effect until one year after the state has formally announced it to the UN Secretary-General.


18 Nov

A Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women report details sexual violence committed by members of Burundi's ruling party’s youth league, the Imbonerakure, including against family members of perceived opponents. The committee finds "widespread impunity owing to the absence of investigation, prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators of violence against women in conflict and victims’ lack of access to justice and reparations."


2017

28 Feb

The UN Secretary-General's annual Special Measures report notes that 41 Burundian military personnel were allegedly associated with four "allegations" of sexual exploitation and abuse in 2016, involving at least 77 victims. This includes peacekeepers accused of widespread sexual exploitation and abuse in Dekoa, Kemo Prefecture, Central African Republic, which was first reported publicly on 30 March 2016.


13 March

In its first oral briefing, the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi laments the "scale and gravity" of human rights violations in Burundi. “We are particularly concerned by the near-complete impunity enjoyed by those responsible for these violations," according to the statement. "Even when victims or witnesses are able to identify suspected perpetrators, cases of prosecution of state agents, or those who appear to have their support, are rare."


14 June

During a subsequent oral briefing, the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi describes sexual violence committed by Burundi government forces in a climate of "deep and widespread fear." The Commission "received testimonies of sexual violence against female relatives of government opponents, especially by people believed to be Imbonerakure."


5 Sept

In its report following a year of work, the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi alleges that the Burundi government has committed crimes against humanity, including rape, since April 2015. It asks the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into the crimes committed in Burundi "as soon as possible."


29 Sept

The UN Human Rights Council extends the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi for an additional year.


25 Oct

The International Criminal Court opens an investigation into crimes against humanity, including rape, committed by Burundi government forces.


27 Oct

Burundi withdraws from the International Criminal Court.


2018

15 Feb

The Secretary-General's annual Special Measures report on sexual exploitation and abuse notes that in 2017, in the UN mission to the Central African Republic, one Burundian police personnel was accused of child rape, and two Burundian military personnel were accused of soliciting transactional sex.


5 Sept

The Commission of Inquiry on Burundi releases its second report, which concludes that Burundi government forces continue to commit crimes against humanity including rape.


28 Sept

The Human Rights Council extends the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi for yet another year.


2019

14 Feb

The Secretary-General's annual Special Measures report on sexual exploitation and abuse notes that in 2018, one Burundian military personnel was accused of child rape, another was accused of exploitative relationships with two victims, and a third was accused of transactional sex, all in the UN mission to the Central African Republic. Another Burundian soldier, serving with the African Union mission to the Central African Republic that preceded MINUSCA, was found by the UN to have committed child rape, and the case was referred to the Government of Burundi.


5 March

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, protests the closure of the UN Human Rights Office in Bujumbura, which was ordered by the Burundi government. The Government had claimed that the existence of the UN office was no longer justified, because Burundi had made sufficient progress in putting in place national mechanisms for the protection of human rights. Ms. Bachelet disagreed, saying the Office continued to receive allegations of human rights violations and abuses, but was severely hampered in its ability to investigate them.


12 March

In an oral briefing, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi details the continued prevalence of sexual violence and other human rights violations committed by Burundi government forces in a climate of "general impunity."


(UN Photo / Martine Perret)