Burundi

Burundi is an ICC state member, having ratified the Rome Statue in 2004. Violence following the President's decision to run for a third term in 2015 is currently the subject of an ICC preliminary examination in the country.
Situation phase: 
Enquête - en cours
Regions: 
Africa
Burundi deposited its instrument of ratification to the Rome Statute on 21 September 2004. Burundi was the first country to leave the ICC and the withdrawal took effect on 27 October 2017. The ICC may, therefore, exercise its jurisdiction over crimes listed in the Rome Statute committed on the territory of Burundi or by its nationals from 1 December 2004 to 26 October 2017. The withdrawal from the Statute has no effect on the jurisdiction of the Court over crimes allegedly committed during the time period it was a State Party.  In its decision authorizing an investigation, the Chamber found a reasonable basis to believe that State agents and groups implementing State policies, together with members of the "Imbonerakure" launched a widespread and systematic attack against the Burundian civilian population. The attack targeted those who opposed or were perceived to oppose the ruling party after President Pierre Nkurunziza announcement to run for a third term in office. 

Throughout its history, Burundi has experienced allegations of serious international crimes in the course of civil wars. In April 2016, after the OTP received numerous communications about alleged Rome Statute crimes including killings, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, the ICC prosecutor announced a preliminary examination of the situation in the country from April 2015 onward, when demonstrations and violence erupted over the incumbent president’s decision to run for a third term. On 25 October, the ICC Prosecutor was authorized to open a proprio motu investigation into alleged crimes committed since 26 April 2015 until 26 October 2017. The Pre-Trial Chamber found a reasonable basis to believe that State agents and groups implementing State policies launched a widespread and systematic attack against the Burundian civilian population. 

Background
Burundi has experienced several ethnic conflicts and civil wars since the 1970s, which has resulted in chronic under-development and extreme poverty. Successive governments have shown little intention to cooperate with international attempts to bring stability and lasting peace to the country, both before and after the April 2016 announcement of the ICC prosecutor's preliminary examination in the country. Starting in 1993, a violent ethnic conflict that lasted over a decade reportedly cost the lives of more than 300,000 Burundians, and left hundreds of thousands displaced. In August 2000, the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi (“Arusha peace agreement”) set up a power-sharing system between the Hutu and the Tutsi which led to the creation of a transitional government on 1 November 2001. After the transitional period, the former Hutu group CNDD-FDD transformed into a political party, won the elections, with Pierre Nkurunziza becoming president of Burundi in 2005. After Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he was running for the presidency for the third time, protests sparked in the country. Burundi’s government forces the Forces de Défense Nationale (“FDN”), the police (Police Nationale du Burundi, or “PNB”) and the intelligence service (Service National de Renseignement or “SNR”) are sought to have led a violent campaign against civilians opposing or perceived as opposing Nkurunziza’s third presidential term.
ICC situation

ICC preliminary examination follows post-election violence 

Reconstruction efforts in Burundi were upended on 25 April 2015 when incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term in office. Widespread violence occurred against civilian demonstrators questioning the legality of the process. On 25 April 2016, the ICC prosecutor announced a preliminary examination to determine if an investigation into alleged Rome Statute crimes from April 2015 onwards was warranted. The decision followed communications about alleged crimes including killings, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, sexual and gender-based crimes, and other widespread violence against civilians and human rights activists. The crimes identified had a severe impact not only on direct victims - who lost their lives, suffered severe physical and psychological injuries - but also on indirect victims.  According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (“UNHCR”), 413,490 people had sought refuge in neighboring countries between April 2015 and 31 May 2017, with a severe impact on child refugees.

National prosecutions

Truth and Reconciliation Commission established 

Burundi established the temporary Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in December 2014 to investigate and establish the truth behind serious human rights violations committed in Burundi from 1962 to 2008, as mandated by the 2000 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. The TRC is able to qualify these crimes, publish lists of victims, and propose a programme of reparation and institutional reform.

Civil society advocacy

Civil society organizations have long called on the UN, AU, and EU to facilitate transitional justice in Burundi, including through the ICC system. Faced with the failure of the international community to assume its responsibility to protect and a flawed national justice system, the people of Burundi hope that international justice can help break cycles of impunity in the country. 

Coalition members, including the highly active Burundi Coalition for the ICC, urged a coordinated global response to the crisis, which has included assessments by human rights expert bodies like the Committee Against Torture

Civil society a key player in implementation legislation 

Burundian members of Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) led the way to the country’s new penal code’s enactment in April 2009. Although it lacks provisions enabling cooperation with the ICC, the code contains comprehensive definitions of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. PGA’s initiative also led to the inclusion of a provision defining the recruitment of children under the age of 18 as a war crime, thus going beyond the Rome Statute’s cut-off age for the crime (15).

Campaign for global justice

Rome statute status: 
Ratified/acceded (ICC member state)
Agreement on Privileges an Immunities of the ICC
Neither signed nor ratified/acceded
Crime of agression
Not ratified
21 September 2004
Article 8
Not ratified
Cooperation: 
No known efforts underway
Complementarity (national prosecutions): 
In progress