The UN Independent Investigation in Burundi (UNIIB) [official website] on Tuesday stated [press release] their grave concern about the current human rights situation in Burundi. The group found, “abundant evidence of gross human rights violations,” which they believe could amount to crimes against humanity by the government of Burundi and people associated with it. Among the calls for international action, the UNIIB called for the immediate creation of an international Commission of Inquiry into the situation. The UNIIB stated that if the violations continue and the Government continues to fail to prevent abuses, invocation of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which authorizes the UN to deploy a force to restore international peace may be necessary.
Violence in Burundi began in the wake of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s announcement that he would seek a third term of office, to which he was elected [JURIST report] last year. Last month UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed concern over increased violence and rights violations in Burundi and called for an “inclusive political dialogue” [JURIST report] to end the ongoing struggle. Speaking to the council about his trip to Burundi last month, the secretary-general stated, “I cannot stress enough the profound humanitarian consequences that political unrest, violence and impunity carry for the population.” Last November the UN Security Council unanimously adopted [JURIST report] a resolution condemning the political violence and killings currently afflicting Burundi.