Testimonies: when international bodies finally deliver justice
Aimable and Emery both suffered a sadly similar fate: victims of torture by Burundian authorities in 2006 and 2007, they were forced into exile to survive. Following many years of legal battles alongside TRIAL International, the decisions of the UN Committee against Torture finally brought them justice (in January 2018 and January 2017 respectively). Emery and Aimable (real names withheld) share their experience, between satisfaction and frustration.
TRIAL International: What was your initial reaction when you were made aware of the decision of the Committee against Torture?
Emery: “The legal battle was lengthy and the waiting period for the judgment was very trying. When the lawyer informed me of this decision, I became very emotional. It was truly a moment of relief to see an international body recognize and condemn the shameful treatment I have suffered.”
Aimable: “Despite my impatience, I have always trusted international bodies. Upon hearing the favorable ruling, I felt a great sense of relief and a renewed sense of hope. The date of the decision will long be engraved in my mind.”
What are you awaiting now?
Emery: “The court decision that recognizes the injustice I suffered is a partial victory, as I need to be compensated. At least symbolically: I will never reclaim my former body. I struggle on a daily basis for the survival of my family and it is not easy to consider projects when you are in exile.”
Aimable: “I expect compensation from the State of Burundi. It is difficult to conceive of plans for the future when one lives in miserable conditions, without any resources, in anguish and grief, far from one’s loved ones. I also expect appropriate sanctions for the perpetrators in order to prevent any possible future violations.”
Your everyday life therefore remains challenging…
Emery: “My health has still not recovered and I have lost my job, which was my only source of income. I was forced to flee, and after my departure, it was my wife’s turn to be threatened and persecuted. My family’s safety was not guaranteed: my wife joined me in exile and we continued to be persecuted.”
Aimable: “The attacks I have suffered have had catastrophic consequences for me and my family. We were all forced into exile. My wife died in 2008 due to poor living conditions and stress. My children and I are refugees in different countries, we still suffer from terrible anxieties and nostalgia.”
Emery: “I have always had faith in international justice. This decision restores a sense of hope and I wish that one day I will obtain reparation for the physical and moral suffering that has been inflicted upon me.”
Aimable: “To all victims awaiting reparation, I send a message of hope and encouragement. This judgment comforted me and renewed my sense of hope.”