Guaranteeing access to justice for Burundian victims of torture

13.02.2019

Having suffered terrible acts of torture in 2015, Gabriel remains hopeful that one day his rights will be recognized.

Gabriel (alias) is one of the many victims of torture at the hands of Burundian state agents since the beginning of the political crisis.

He was arrested on suspicion of an attack in 2015 on a high-ranking Burundian figure. Following an identity check, and for no other reason than his belonging to the former regular army, Gabriel was arrested in the street by a group of police officers before being taken to one of Bujumbura’s many prisons.

Whilst there, Gabriel was subjected to several interrogation sessions regarding his involvement in the aforementioned attack. Throughout the interrogation, while denying the allegations against him, Gabriel was violently beaten up. Unable to bear the pain caused by these repeated blows, Gabriel finally “confessed” to the charges against him.

After his “confessions” were obtained, Gabriel was held in solitary confinement for several weeks. He was not informed of his rights and did not receive legal aid. His family was not notified of his imprisonment, nor was he allowed to meet with them. In addition, Gabriel received no medical attention during this period, despite significant after-effects of torture.

After several years, the facts remain unpunished

The abuse to which Gabriel was subjected was ignored by the Burundian authorities, despite him reporting it several times.

Thus, several years after the events, no inquiry has been opened to establish what really happened, and no investigative acts has taken place. As a result, Gabriel’s torturers have not been identified and the facts surrounding his torture remain unpunished.

Referral to an international body

In view of the inertia the domestic judiciary, and in order for the Burundian State to comply with its international obligations towards Gabriel, TRIAL International has referred the matter to an international body. This is all the more important because his case is far from isolated, and recognition of his rights at the international level could open the way to many other victims of torture.

The procedure is ongoing.