Human rights violations in Burundi: a case study in post-conflict reconciliation and transitional justice
Ndimurwimo, Leah Alexis
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Human rights issues in Africa in general and in the Great Lakes Region in particular have grown exponentially in the last two decades. Using Burundi as a case study, this thesis examines the issues of gross human rights violations in post-conflict Burundi and the lack of an effective transitional justice model. In doing so, this thesis traces the roots of Burundi's sullied human rights record over 51 years since independence from Belgium in 1962, the role of the military in human rights violations, including mass killings of civilians, extra-judicial executions of political opponents and the failure of a post-conflict constitutional architecture to establish accountability and responsibility for these violations. This same post-conflict architecture has failed to provide truth, justice and reparations to the victims and in putting an end to a culture of impunity which has become entrenched in Burundian society. As a necessary corollary, this thesis discusses the role of the United Nations (UN) and that of the international community in resolving Burundi's conflicts. For example, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has been raising concerns over systemic mass killings and lack of judicial and legislative transformation in Burundi. On the other hand, case law and the African Commission for Human Rights' decisions reveal the prevalence of gross human rights violations in Burundi. Regrettably, researchers on the human rights situation in Burundi are not id idem as to whether in law the systematic killings of hundreds of thousands of Hutus by the minority Tutsis amount to genocide. Thus, the need for informed research on the situation in Burundi as a part of an ongoing search for a comprehensive and just solution to Burundi's painful post- conflict settlement provided a strong impetus for this study. Although human rights are enshrined in the Constitution of Burundi of 2005, gross violations of human rights continue unabated and state practice demonstrates a blatant disregard for human rights norms enshrined in the Constitution and in international human rights instruments to which Burundi is a State Party. The thesis argues that there will be no political stability and no enduring peace without addressing the roots of these human rights violations in a comprehensive manner. The inescapable conclusions that are drawn from the findings suggest that revealing the truth about past mass killings and paying reparation to the victims are indispensable to peace and national healing in Burundi. There is a general consensus on national healing and concerted determination to end impunity through establishing effective transitional justice mechanisms. This thesis recommends practical strategies that should be put in place to establish accountability and responsibility for gross violations of human rights. The law is stated as at July 2014.
- Law