UN investigators on Monday urged the International Criminal Court to investigate as soon as possible war crimes committed by state elements in Burundi, which has been in a political crisis since April 2015.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that a number of these abuses, most of which were committed by the National Intelligence Service, the police, the army and the pro-government (Ibonaraki) militia, constitute crimes against humanity,” the UN commission of inquiry said on Burundi.
The committee spoke of the possibility that “officials at the highest levels of the state” might be involved in these crimes.
“Human rights violations have also been committed by an armed group of the opposition but have proved difficult to document,” it said.
As a result of this, “because of the independence of the Burundian judiciary and impunity” in this country, the Commission “requests the ICC to open an investigation as soon as possible on the situation in Burundi since April 2015”.
Burundi officially notified the United Nations of its decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court on October 27, 2016. But the withdrawal will not take effect until a year later, Oct. 27, 2017. The court has until then to open an investigation.
If the deadline expires, only the UN Security Council can resort to the international judicial body.
Burundi has been in a violent crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s April 2015 decision to run for a third term despite objections, which occurred in July of the same year.
There were violent demonstrations at the time and a coup attempt in May 2015 led to a systematic crackdown on the authorities.