Thursday, November 09, 2017

Burundi Charged with Crimes Against Humanity

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague approved a full war crimes investigation in Burundi. The judges found there was "a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation in relation to crimes against humanity". The judges ruled that although Burundi had become the first country to leave the ICC, the court still had "jurisdiction over crimes allegedly committed while Burundi was a State party to the ICC Rome Statute. Burundi was a State Party from the moment the Rome Statute entered into effect for Burundi (1 December 2004) until the end of the one-year interval since the notification of Burundi's withdrawal (26 October 2017)." The Burundi government had a "duty to cooperate with the court for the purpose of this investigation," the court found, since the probe was approved before Burundi's "withdrawal became effective" from the ICC, the judges said. They added that if "sufficient evidence" was found the prosecutor could "issue either summonses to appear or warrants of arrest."
The ICC judges noted that "at least 1,200 persons were allegedly killed, thousands illegally detained, thousands reportedly tortured, and hundreds disappeared. The alleged acts of violence have reportedly resulted in the displacement of 413,490 persons between April 2015 and May 2017." Officers with Burundi's National Intelligence Service, which reports directly to the president, the national police force, military and the ruling party's youth league were implicated in the crimes, according to the UN report. Based on interviews with 500 victims and witnesses, the report also suggested Burundi's armed opposition groups had committed rights abuses.

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