A first step towards fighting impunity?
Boniface Ntikarahera worked as a night watchman at a hospital in Bujumbura. In 2010, he was violently beaten by security agents presumably acting upon orders of the city's former Mayor. He fell unconscious only to awake in a police cell, where he was detained for several days in abysmal conditions.
Given the passive attitude of the judicial authorities, TRIAL lodged a complaint on his behalf before the UN Committee Against Torture. In May 2014, the UN body condemned Burundi and requested that the authorities launch an inquiry in order to penalize the perpetrators and compensate the victim.
The case finally came full circle, landing squarely before Burundi’s authorities. Boniface Ntikarahera was finally heard by the Court and a medical evaluation was carried out to establish the extent of the torture. The former Mayor was also cross-examined in Court and witnesses will soon follow suit.
In spite of the heightened tensions caused by the forthcoming elections, advances in this investigation have been significant in the fight against impunity in Burundi.
Although justice and reparation still need to be served, Boniface Ntikarahera’s case represents an encouraging step in the right direction.