« I was stopped in the street for no reason »

03.06.2016 ( Last modified: 20.02.2017 )

Claude (real name withheld) was stopped in the street by Burundian State agents. Without any explanations, they simply threatened him with a weapon and ordered him to follow them, confiscating his car keys.

During Claude’s interrogation, they tried by all means to make him “confess” fictitious facts: blows all over his body with bats and iron wires, suspension by the arms, broken teeth… Claude’s torture lasted for hours. The height of horror was reached as one of the torturers filmed the entire ordeal.

Cornered against the wall and in a critical state, the victim accepted to sign a previously prepared statement by his torturers.

But this “confession” lead to further violations of his rights : Claude was indeed detained the following seven days in a crowded cell without hygiene, unable to contact his family or a lawyer. His relatives learned of his fate through media reports.

Five months passed before he was heard by a judge, who ordered his liberation for lack of evidence to sustain the charges.

Procedure

Claude tried to access the Burundian justice in every way possible, without success. Neither a medical certificate attesting the torture that he suffered nor the intervention of human rights organizations made the authorities take action.

In December 2011, Claude brought the case to the international level with the help of TRIAL International. Together, they seized the United Nations, requesting them to take a decision in regards to Claude’s torture and arbitrary detention.

If successful, the Burundian government will have to meet its obligations of prosecuting the perpetrators and paying reparations for the damages that the victim suffered. The procedure is pending.