Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi (A/HRC/42/49)

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Human Rights Council
Forty-second session
9–27 September 2019
Agenda item 4
Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention


Serious human rights violations have continued to be committed in Burundi since May 2018, in a general climate of impunity. Some of these violations constitute international crimes. Members of the youth league of the ruling party, the Imbonerakure, are the main perpetrators. Officers of the National Intelligence Service and the police, along with local administrative officials, are also frequently identified as perpetrators of such violations.

Burundi has been experiencing a political and economic crisis for more than four years. The human rights violations are essentially political in nature, and the suppression of civil liberties is intensifying in the run-up to the 2020 presidential and legislative elections. In accordance with the principles of early warning and prevention, the Commission has identified several risk factors in the current environment. The evolving situation must be monitored with the greatest vigilance.

I. Introduction

A. Mandate

  1. The Commission of Inquiry on Burundi was created by Human Rights Council resolution 33/24, adopted on 30 September 2016, to conduct a thorough investigation into human rights violations and abuses committed in Burundi since April 2015, to determine whether any of them may constitute international crimes, to identify their alleged perpetrators and to formulate recommendations for ensuring that such perpetrators are held accountable for their acts. This mandate was extended for two additional one-year periods, by resolution 36/19, adopted on 29 September 2017, and by resolution 39/14, adopted on 28 September 2018.

  2. The membership of the Commission remains unchanged: Doudou Diène (Senegal), who has chaired the body since 1 February 2018; Lucy Asuagbor (Cameroon), a member since 5 March 2018; and Françoise Hampson (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), appointed on 22 November 2016.

  3. The Commission has looked into violations and abuses committed since May 2018, paying special attention to those related to the 2020 electoral process. Using objective indicators defined at the international level, it has sought to determine whether there are any risk factors pointing to a possible deterioration in the human rights situation. These efforts are in keeping with the principles of early warning and prevention and have provided valuable information on the current situation and potential developments.

  4. In 2019, the Commission presented two oral briefings to the Human Rights Council. The present report summarizes the final conclusions of its investigations, which will be detailed in a separate document.