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Burundi: fear of torture / legal concern

, Index number: AFR 16/003/1996

Vendage Warigonda, Marcel Nsengiyumva, Alexis Nduwimana, Adrien Ruvuguta, Ignace Kagoma, Mathias Ndihukubwayo, Julien Habonimana, Nestor Ngandabanka, Joseph Ndimurukundo, Jean-Paul Haburugira, school student, and six others (names unconfirmed): AI fears that 16 people may be facing torture or ill-treatment and remain detained without charge. The arrests took place in February 1995 after a reported shoot-out between government forces and an armed group near Gasenyi.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 16/03/96
UA 46/96 Fear of torture / Legal concern 26 February 1996
BURUNDIVendage Warigonda
Marcel Nsengiyumva
Alexis Nduwimana
Adrien Ruvuguta
Ignace Kagoma
Mathias Ndihukubwayo
Julien Habonimana
Nestor Ngandabanka
Joseph Ndimurukundo
Jean-Paul Habarugira, school student
and six others (names unconfirmed)
Amnesty International fears that 16 people, currently believed to be held in
the headquarters of the Brigade spéciale de recherche (BSR), Special
Investigation Brigade, in the capital, Bujumbura, may be facing torture or
ill-treatment. The organization is also concerned that they may remain
detained without charge and without being allowed an opportunity to challenge
their detention before an impartial judicial official.
The first nine named above and six others whose identities remain unconfirmed,
were arrested on 18 February 1995 with 51 others by the security forces at
Gasenyi, a suburb of Bujumbura. Jean-Paul Habarugira, a student at Musema
Secondary School, in Kayanza Province, was arrested on 15 February 1995 by
the BSR at Gasenyi.
The arrests on 18 February took place following a shoot-out which reportedly
took place between government forces and an armed group near Gasenyi, where
there is a camp for Hutu displaced by the civil war. As instructed by the
authorities, when civilians heard the shooting, they ran towards a position
held by government forces. Government forces then arrested 66 men of fighting
age and accused them of being members of armed groups. Several men managed
to escape as the rest were climbing on to military trucks. About 60 of those
arrested were first taken to Second Intervention Battalion in Ngagara, where
five men were released. The remaining 55 were taken to the BSR headquarters
where 40 were released on 18 and 19 February. The remaining 15 are believed
to be still held at the BSR.
Suspects held at the BSR are almost always subjected to torture and other forms
of ill-treatment, such as beatings and kneeling on sharp objects, mainly to
extract confessions and to force them to incriminate themselves and others.
Burundi has been in a state of civil war since 21 October 1993 when President
Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu, was killed by government soldiers during a coup
attempt. About 5,600 people, most of them members of the majority Hutu ethnic
group, are being held in a number of detention centres around Burundi. The
detainees are accused of killing members of the minority Tutsi ethnic group
and Hutu members of Tutsi-dominated political parties, and of belonging to
exclusively Hutu or Hutu-dominated armed groups which have been fighting the
Tutsi-dominated government forces. Most of the detainees are held without charge
and all of them without trial.
The Tutsi-dominated judiciary has failed to investigate detainees' torture
allegations. In March 1995, Amnesty International delegates visiting Burundi
interviewed two detainees who had been tortured (see UA 77/95, AFR 16/04/95,
27 March 1995). The delegates were informed that a top judicial official had
authorized the use of violence to extract confessions. Torture is reported
to be carried out systematically, and with impunity, in detention centres
belonging to the security forces. Deaths in custody are often reported.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in French or your own language:
- expressing concern about reports that the people named above (naming some)
are being held at the BSR headquarters where suspects are known to be subjected
to torture and other forms of ill-treatment;
- seeking assurances that the detainees have not been tortured and that measures
are being taken to guarantee their physical integrity;
- requesting the authorities to ensure that the detainees have access to legal
counsel, medical care and visits by their relatives and representatives of
human rights and humanitarian organizations;
- asking to be informed of the reasons for their detention, and whether they
have been charged with any specific offences;
- urging that the detainees be released without delay, if they have not been
charged with recognizably criminal offences.
1. Minister of Justice
Monsieur Gérard NGENDABANKA
Ministre de la Justice et Garde des sceaux
Ministère de la Justice
BP 1880, Bujumbura, République du Burundi
Faxes: +257 22 2148
Telegrams: Ministre de la Justice, Bujumbura, Burundi
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre / Dear Minister
2. Gendarmerie Chief of Staff
Colonel Pascal SIMBANDUKU
Chef de l'Etat-major général de la gendarmerie
Etat-major général de la gendarmerie
Ministère de la Défense nationale
Bujumbura, République du Burundi
Telegrams: CEMG Simbanduku, Bujumbura, Burundi
Salutation: Monsieur le Chef d'Etat-major / Dear Chief of Staff
3. Procurator General
Monsieur Jean-Bosco BUTASI
Procureur Géneral
BP 105, Bujumbura, République du Burundi
Telegrams: Procureur General, Bujumbura, Burundi
Salutation: Monsieur le Procureur Géneral / Dear Procurator General
1. Head of State
Son Excellence
le Président Sylvestre NTIBANTUNGANYA
Président de la République
Présidence de la République
BP 1870, Bujumbura, République du Burundi
Faxes: +257 22 7490
2. Prime Minister
Monsieur Antoine NDUWAYO
Premier Ministre
Présidence de la République
BP 2800, Bujumbura, République du Burundi
Faxes: +257 22 64 24
3. Minister for Human Rights
Madame Marcienne MUJAWAHA
Ministre des Droits de la Personne
humaine, de l'Action sociale et de la
Promotion de la femme
Ministère des Droits de la Personne humaine,
de l'Action sociale et de la
Promotion de la femme
BP 2690, Bujumbura, République du Burundi
Faxes: +257 21 5179 or 23 3139
and to diplomatic representatives of Burundi accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 20 April 1996.

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