BUJUMBURA – Burundi’s Attorney General Sylvestre Nyandwi on Saturday said an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into alleged crimes against humanity in Burundi since 2015 would be legally groundless.
Speaking during a press briefing, Nyandwi deplored the fact that the United Nations investigators declared that the east African country’s jurisdictions are “not willing” and are “not capacitated” to prosecute perpetrators of crimes against humanity happening in Burundi since 2015.
“We have always demonstrated that Burundian jurisdictions are able to prosecute people accused of crimes. We discussed with the ICC about crimes that were committed since 2015 and measures taken to repress them, but it is surprising to realize that the UN (United Nations) investigators are questioning the competence of our jurisdictions,” said Nyandwi.
Three UN investigators, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, on Monday issued a report whereby they urged the ICC to open a case “as soon as possible” against the Burundian government on alleged crimes against humanity committed since 2015.
The UN inquiry commission said that it had reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity had been perpetrated by the country’s highest authorities.
The report detailed what it described as widespread and systematic abuses including extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, torture and sexual violence.
The investigators had collected views from Burundian refugees living in neighboring countries and in Europe, but were denied access to the Burundian territory due to a previous “biased and wrong” report, according to the Burundian government.
Burundi plunged into a crisis since April 2015 when Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run his controversial third term bid.
His candidature, which was opposed by the opposition and civil society groups, resulted in a wave of protests, violence and even a failed coup on May 13, 2015.
Over 410,000 people have fled to other countries, mostly Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda, since the outbreak of the crisis.