The United States thanks the Commission of Inquiry for its work.
We are deeply troubled by the Commission’s finding that it has reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity continued to be committed in 2017 and 2018. The reports of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, and sexual violence are alarming. We are also concerned by the increased responsibility of members of the Imbonerakure for torture and repression, and that the government allows the Imbonerakure to act as a de facto law enforcement body. A climate of impunity is exacerbated by the Burundian judicial system which is both unwilling and unable to identify and prosecute those responsible for these acts.
We are also troubled by the Burundian government’s recent suspension of international NGOs and domestic and international media outlets. This reflects broader government efforts to restrict civic and political space. We call on the Government of Burundi to reopen political space for members of the opposition, independent media, and civil society.
The Government’s apparent culpability in violations and abuses of human rights and its persistent refusal to cooperate with the Commission and the Office of the High Commissioner raise serious concerns with respect to Burundi’s international legal obligations- we call on the Government to demonstrate it is serious about addressing the human rights issues identified by taking steps to reengage with the international community including the United Nations.
We also have a question. There were reports of increased human rights violations and abuses leading up to the referendum. Have you seen any changes in the human rights environment since the referendum or following the President’s announcement that he would not seek a fourth term?