One year after the announcement by the ruling CNDD-FDD party that now President Pierre Nkurunziza was to run for a third term, the ICC says it will begin a preliminary probe into the violence.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on Monday that it will begin an investigation of the situation in Burundi to determine whether war crimes have been committed.
“My office has reviewed a number of communications and reports detailing acts of killing, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as cases of enforced disappearances,” said Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in a statement.
One year ago, President Pierre Nkurunziza defied the international community and regional leaders by announcing his run for a third term, despite rights activists and government critics increasingly voicing their discontent. Many considered his candidacy as a violation of the country’s constitution and the 2000 Arusha Agreement. He was eventually re-elected in July 2015.
After he declared his candidacy, protests started one day later mainly in the capital Bujumbura and were violently repressed. Military officials later attempted a coup. While the coup was unsuccessful and the protests squashed, many of those who took part have subsequently been arrested, killed or targeted by security organs and forced to flee into exile in neighboring countries.
The coordinator of the Burundi Catholic Lawyers Association Jean Marie Vianney Gatogato told DW that the crisis increased violations of human rights, stressing that there is still a long way to go for the Burundian government to abide by the rule of law.
“According to figures from civil society, there have been at least 325 cases of torture, nearly one thousand people killed and about 270,000 refugees scattered in neighboring countries,” he said.
Daily life has also been slow to recover after the violence. Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana, a student at the University of Burundi, told DW that academic activities have been delayed because of the crisis.
“Since the outbreak of the crisis, many students got scattered. Some moved to different areas. Some fled to neighboring countries. Some were jailed and some were killed,” he said.
Fidela Nizigiyimana, a secondary school teacher who lived in Mutakura in the north of the capital Bujumbura, but who shifted to Nyakabiga near the city center hoping that the security situation would be better, realized that the security situation was deteriorating.
“We try to survive but it’s not easy. We used to have many evening English language learners, but now, there aren’t any,” she said.
The UN Security Council is expected to discuss the Burundi crisis later this week.