UN Torture Committee raises concerns over widespread abuses, condemns immunity for rape and torture, urges creation of special war crimes court
The Committee remained concerned, however, by the lack of specific provisions in Burundi's Penal Code to define and criminalize torture, and the lack of clarity surrounding the status of the Convention in domestic law. It noted with concern that the rules concerning detention did not explicitly require that detainees be notified of their rights, and was alarmed by information received that torture was a widespread practice in Burundi and that, indeed, there had been hundreds of cases of torture committed between July 2005 and July 2006 â€“ a fact which the State party did not contest. +In addition, it was extremely concerned by reports concerning a high number of forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and secret detentions committed by the National Information Service. The Committee was worried by the double mandate of the Information Service, which was charged both with ensuring State security and judicial police functions, a combination that entailed a high risk that such an entity would be used as an instrument of political repression. It was further alarmed by reports of large scale sexual violence against women and children by State agents and armed groups, as well as recourse to systematized rape as a weapon of war, which was a crime against humanity. The Committee was extremely concerned that the perpetrators of such acts enjoyed apparent impunity.
Concerned by the dependency of the judiciary on the executive branch, the Committee urged Burundi to adopt measures to guarantee the independence of the judiciary. It further recommended that Burundi put in place and promote an effective mechanism mandated to receive complaints of sexual violence, including those occurring within the penitentiary system, and to investigate them. In particular, it urged the State party to look into setting up a national monitoring system for places of detention and to institute a follow-up procedure. As a matter of urgency, Burundi needed to take measures to combat impunity, in particular through the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms "a commission for truth and reconciliation and a special tribunal" as recommended by the Security Council in its resolution 1606 (2005).
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Burundi, human rights, Current Affairs, Politics, Africa