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Burundi: TRIAL brings first torture cases ever submitted to the UN

09.01.2013 ( Last modified: 17.07.2017 )

The first cases ever brought against Burundi to the UN Committee against Torture were recently submitted by TRIAL. Already seven victims of torture and arbitrary detention have, with the support of TRIAL, handed their case to the UN to seek justice. In Burundi, TRIAL also works to strengthen the civil society capacities by organising training courses for lawyers and NGO representatives.

Despite the end of the civil war in Burundi, serious violations of human rights such as torture and extrajudicial executions are still regularly documented in the country and access to justice remains difficult for victims. The persistent impunity observed for the most serious crimes is a sign that the judicial system in Burundi needs to be strengthened.

The voice of the victims: “For hours, they beat me violently over my entire body with different objects. The pipes with which they beat my lower back seem to cut in half my body covered in blood. I seised the Committee against Torture in the hope of getting justice. I also want to be the spokesperson of the other victims of torture to end this scourge and to fight against impunity”.Concerning the legal trainingprovided by TRIAL, a local attorney voices his position: “The training provided by TRIAL to Burundian lawyers and human rights defenders is a rare opportunity to be informed, trained, and take concretely part in the fight against torture. After this valuable training, I am convinced that TRIAL contributes effectively to building the national capacities that are necessary to provide Burundi with a new momentum in the fight against human rights violations in general and torture in particular”.

At the request of a Burundian NGO, in 2011 TRIAL launched a project in this country in order to enable victims of torture and other crimes to assert their rights and obtain redress for their suffering. To this aim, TRIAL offers free legal support to victims of human rights violations, whose cases haven’t been handled in an effective manner by national courts, by submitting complaints on their behalf to the UN Committee against Torture (CAT), the Working Group of the United Nations on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) and other international mechanisms for human rights protection. Within the framework of this project, TRIAL is currently representing seven victims before those institutions, six victims of torture before the CAT and one victim of arbitrary detention before the WGAD. With the support of TRIAL, other victims will shortly file their complaints to obtain justice before these bodies.

Moreover, TRIAL works for the strengthening of the capacity of Burundian civil society, lawyers and NGOs by organising legal trainings on international human rights law and the submission of complaints before international mechanisms for the protection of human rights.

In doing so, TRIAL’s project aims at reinforcing the rule of law in Burundi and in particular its judicial system by identifying shortcomings and by working towards an effective respect of international human rights law by Burundi. As part of the review of the situation in Burundi by international human rights mechanisms, such as the Human Rights Council, TRIAL submits concrete recommendations aiming in particular at strengthening the judicial system and improving the legal and institutional framework necessary for the fight against impunity.

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