Torture of political activist “Kurt”

03.06.2016 ( Last modified: 21.08.2017 )

Kurt (real name withheld) was an active member of the opposition. He was arrested by around 15 police officers at his home in the early hours of the morning in 2007. Taken to the police station, those officers wanted Kurt to testify against the former president of his party and to acknowledge that he himself had tried to destabilize the party in power – which was by no means the case.

Because Kurt continued to deny the allegations, the agents beat him for four hours, only stopping to interrogate him further. After hours of torture, threats and humiliation, Kurt “acknowledged” the allegations. After his statement, he was imprisoned under deplorable conditions: he was forced to sleep on the ground, deprived of water, food and access to the toilets, and regularly beaten all over his body. Kurt had to share his cell with around thirty other detainees and was not given any chance to speak to anyone outside. Consequently, he was unable to warn his family or to have access to a lawyer.

Released on bail several months later, Kurt immediately informed the authorities of the violence that he had suffered. The United Nations and several human rights NGOs intervened on his behalf but did not manage to get anything done about it: five years after the events, no investigation had been opened.

That is why Kurt, with TRIAL’s support, filed a complaint before the United Nations in 2012, reporting the authorities’ violation of their international obligation and their responsibility in the torture that Kurt had suffered.

In November 2016, the United Nations recognized the violations of Kurt’s rights. Burundi has not yet enacted its recommendations.


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