Burundi: grave concern over violence and excessive use of force ahead of elections


Joint declaration from civil society organizations

On 20 May 2020, Burundian citizens will vote on triple presidential, legislative and municipal elections. International and Burundian organizations expressed their concern over the multiplication of violent acts during the campaign, which already plant the seed for dissent and the escalation of electoral unrest on voting day.

In Burundi, the reigning climate of fear risking to turn into graver clashes during and after the poll is a concerning matter for the civil society. ©Landry Nshimiye

Since the beginning of the electoral campaign, civil society has noted with great concern a rise in cases of human rights violations, ethnicity-based hate speech, excessive use of force, political intolerance, clashes between members of political parties, and intimidations and threats towards members of these parties (or individuals perceived as such).

(…) The last few weeks have taken a heavy toll on human rights. Allegations of violations (…) report at least 22 deaths, 7 of which were extrajudicial executions and 10 bodies found lifeless; six abductions; two victims of sexual violence, 18 people tortured and 67 arbitrarily arrested. (…) Among the registered casualties were three women and two minors. Two more minors were abducted, two women tortured and four women arbitrarily arrested.


A climate of fear, provocation and slander

All these violent outbreaks are coupled with numerous movement restrictions for certain candidates of the opposition, and prohibitions to organize events in certain places and venues. The reigning climate of fear, provocation and slander risks to turn into graver clashes during and after the poll. This situation does not bode well for the preservation of peace and the rebuilding of trust between sociopolitical actors.

(…) The signatory organizations wish to remind to the Burundian authorities and to Burundi’s international partners that an investigation was opened by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on the situation in the country since 2015, including on violations of human right and international humanitarian law. It is therefore crucial that all stakeholders pay particular attention to any deterioration of the situation that could arise from the upcoming poll.


Signatory organizations:

  • TRIAL International
  • Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture (OMCT)
  • Collectif des associations contre l’impunité au Togo (CACIT)/Togo
  • Mouvement Ivoirien des Droits Humains (MIDH)/ Côte d’Ivoire
  • Observatoire des Femmes actives de Côte d’Ivoire (OFACI)/ Côte d’Ivoire
  • Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA)/ Cameroun
  • Alliance pour l’Universalité des Droits Fondamentaux (AUDF)/ RDC
  • Réseau des Défenseurs des Droits de l’Homme (RDDH)/ RDC
  • Action des chrétiens pour l’abolition de la torture (ACAT/TCHAD)
  • SOS Torture Burundi/ Burundi
  • Action des chrétiens pour l’abolition de la torture (ACAT-Burundi)
  • Collectif des Avocats pour la Défense des Victimes de Crimes de Droit International commis au Burundi (CAVIB)/ Burundi
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