A prominent member of a Burundian opposition party, Henri (real name withheld) was arrested on his way to work in 2010. Before even reaching the police station, the agents had started beating him. The acts of abuse lasted for hours and continued while he was incarcerated. On top of the torture and the threats, Henri was held under deplorable conditions: for five days, he was not given any water or food, and he was handcuffed the entire time.
Henri was held in detention for 15 months before being brought before a judge. The judge unfairly convicted him of complicity in the illegal possession of firearms but, as he had already served the sentence that he was given, Henri was released a few days later.
Despite Henri’s efforts and the international community’s unanimous condemnation, the Burundian authorities did not open an investigation.
With TRIAL’s help, the case was referred to the United Nations in 2012. It acknowledged the Burundian State’s responsibility in Henri’s case, as well as violations of its international obligations to fight against torture. The victim should have received reparation, but he died beforehand.