UN investigators have urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open a case against Burundi “as soon as possible”, after accusing the government of crimes against humanity, including executions and torture.
The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Burundi said it has “reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed and continue to be committed in Burundi,” pointing a finger at “the highest level of the state”.
The three investigators, appointed by the Human Rights Council last September, described a “climate of fear” in the crisis-hit East African country.
The report detailed widespread and systematic abuses including extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, torture and sexual violence.
“We are struck by the scale and the brutality of the violations,” commission president Fatsah Ouguergouz said in a statement.
Decrying impunity in Burundi and the “strong likelihood that the perpetrators of these crimes will remain unpunished,” the investigators asked “the International Criminal Court to open an investigation … as soon as possible”.
Last year, Burundi formally announced it was withdrawing from the court, with the move set to take effect on October 27.
After that date, the ICC can only open a case if asked to do so by the Security Council.