Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Burundi: Rights Protections at Risk with New Government

(New York, November 4, 2005)?The election of a new government
in Burundi has not brought an end to human rights violations by all
sides in the country?s brutal civil war, Human Rights Watch said
today.

Human Rights Watch has documented torture and summary executions
in the ongoing war in a new report, "Burundi: Missteps at a Crucial
Moment."

"The armed conflict in Burundi is no excuse for torture and summary
execution," said Alison Des Forges, senior adviser to the Africa
Division of Human Rights Watch. "The government and the rebels
alike must abide by their obligations under international law to treat
anyone in their custody humanely."

The report documents cases where Burundian soldiers summarily
executed five civilians and tortured others whom they suspected of
being collaborators with the last active rebel group, the National
Liberation Forces (FNL).

Human Rights Watch also describes cases where agents of the
intelligence service, known as the Documentation Nationale, detained
more than fifty civilians without regard for legal procedures and
tortured some of them while they were in custody. Intelligence agents
apprehended civilians and suspected rebels in Kinama, an area where
the FNL is sometimes active and where candidates from the Front for
Democracy in Burundi (Frodebu) recently defeated contenders from
the National Council for the Defense of Democracy?Forces for the
Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) in local elections. Four of the
detained are recently elected Frodebu officials or their spouses.
Witnesses in Kinama report that demobilized FDD combatants are
now armed and acting as informants for the Documentation Nationale.

The CNDD-FDD won local and national elections in many areas of
Burundi and dominates the government, installed in August. The
newly elected president, Pierre Nkurunziza, is a member of the
CNDD-FDD, and General Adolphe Nshimirimana, director of the
intelligence service, was formerly a FDD combatant.

Armed hostilities continue between the rebel FNL and the new
government, with skirmishes occurring around the capital of
Bujumbura. The report documents FNL killings of four civilians who
held government posts or who were thought by rebels to be otherwise
tied to the authorities. Two of the victims were decapitated and a third
had his arm cut off, mutilations occasionally practiced by the FNL on
their victims.

Human Rights Watch called on the international community,
particularly members of the United Nations Security Council who are
traveling to the region today, to urge the Burundian government to
follow both Burundian and international law and to ensure U.N.
human rights monitors access to detainees suspected of FNL
collaboration.

"When the new government took power in August, it promised to
protect human rights," said Des Forges. "But in some parts of the
country it is not delivering on that promise."

To view this document on the Human Rights Watch website, please
visit: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/11/03/burund11976.htm

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