Désiré wanted to escape a violent fate, but the insecurity in Burundi claimed him

03.06.2016 ( Last modified: 01.02.2018 )

Désiré (not his real name), a Burundian citizen, had joined the National Liberation Forces (FNL) movement when he was scarcely more than a child. After his demobilization, he decided to live a peaceful life with his wife and their child.

But the calm was short-lived. In 2010, a wave of insecurity swept across the country after the opposition contested the elections. Political opponents were systematically persecuted. There was, in particular, a significant surge in extrajudicial executions.

During this time, Désiré was arrested for the first time by a State agent who tried to bribe him to get hold of the names of the FNL leaders.

Following Désiré’s refusal, several law enforcement officers tried to kill him at his home a few months later. Left for dead, the victim was hospitalized for several months in a very critical condition.

No sooner had he left the hospital, the authorities put pressure on him once more, forcing Désiré to flee the region. These precautions were insufficient to put an end to his ordeal, however, because Désiré was abducted and executed in July 2011. He was 28 years old at the time.



After the execution, numerous NGO’s such as Amnesty International, International Crisis Group, and Human Rights Watch put pressure on Burundian authorities to see justice done. An investigation was claimed to have been opened, but to date no investigative acts have been carried out and no proceedings have been launched.

Despite wide media coverage following Désiré’s execution, his family was never heard by the authorities or given information of any progress made. More than six years later, the acts remain unpunished.

An NGO coalition of which TRIAL International was part brought the case before an international human rights body. The victim’s family is entitled to an appropriate reparation, including compensation, satisfaction, and rehabilitation measures.

The proceedings are ongoing.


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