On 27 February 2012, in accordance with rule 114 (1) of its rules of procedure, the
Committee requested the State party to adopt effective measures, throughout the duration of
the Committee’s consideration of the complaint, to prevent any threats or acts of violence to
which the complainant might be exposed, in particular as a result of having lodged the
present complaint, and to keep the Committee informed of the measures taken to that end.
The facts as submitted by the complainant
In the wake of the civil war (1993–2006), Burundi experienced a power struggle that
led to a climate of instability. In 2006, the last active rebel group — the Forces nationales
de libération (National Liberation Forces) — signed a ceasefire with the Government,
thereby marking the official end of the Burundian civil war. However, the political
instability and the resulting threat to the peace process remained a source of concern. In
August 2006, six political figures, including the former president and the vice-president,
were imprisoned for an alleged attempted coup d’état.
Against that background, on 2 August 2006, at around 8 a.m., the complainant, who
was a colonel in the Burundian army, was arrested in the centre of Bujumbura by seven
plain-clothes officers of the National Intelligence Service. They pointed a gun at his chest
and, without any explanation, asked him to follow them. One of the officers was Jean
Bosco Nsabimana. When they arrived at the Intelligence Service headquarters, the
complainant was taken to an office where there were six Intelligence Service officers,
including Mr. Nsabimana. The Administrator-General of the Intelligence Service, MajorGeneral Adolphe Nshimirimana, was in telephone contact with the officers. The officers
informed the complainant that he was accused of involvement in an attempted coup d’état
and they asked him to sign a statement admitting his involvement. As he refused to sign,
the complainant was severely beaten all over his body for more than two hours, in
particular on his back, with sticks, batons and wires that had previously been placed in
water mixed with sand so that the sand would work its way into his wounds and increase
his suffering. One of the officers filmed the scene. According to the complainant, General
Nshimirimana ordered the agents by telephone to continue the beating when he refused to
confess. As the complainant still refused to sign a confession, he was hung up by his arms
above the floor and again severely beaten all over his body. In order to stifle his cries of
pain, a stone was placed in his mouth, damaging his teeth.
The beating stopped when the complainant, who was in a critical condition, agreed
to sign a prepared statement admitting his involvement in the attempted coup d’état. He was
then held for seven days in an Intelligence Service cell measuring 9 m2 with 12 other
persons, in appalling, unhygienic conditions, without receiving any food for several days.
There were no washing facilities in the cell and the complainant had to sleep on the floor.
He received no treatment during this period, despite his repeated requests to be examined
by a doctor. He was not allowed to communicate with a lawyer or his family, who learned
of his arrest via the media.
While he was being held in the Intelligence Service cell, the complainant was visited
by members of the Ligue Iteka and the Ligue Izere, two Burundian human rights
associations, who noted that he had been subjected to torture. Alerted by numerous reports,
the Minister for National Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender, Françoise Ngendahayo,
personally visited the Intelligence Service headquarters on 3 August 2006. She made the
following statement to the media: “I went to see the arrested persons ... They told me they
had been beaten and I could see that they had. I asked the Director of the Intelligence
Service (Documentation nationale) to put a stop to it.”1
No action was taken, however. Following the visits of the Ligue Iteka and the Ligue
Izere, a public statement signed by 10 human rights organizations and condemning the
arrest of political figures by the Intelligence Service was sent to the Burundian authorities
on 4 August 2006. The statement said that the visits made by the Ligue Iteka, detainees’
families and the Minister for National Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender had confirmed
Agence France-Presse (AFP), “Préparation d’un coup d’état: les personnes arrêtées ‘battues’”
(Arrested and “beaten” for planning a coup d’état), 4 August 2006 (article in Burundi Bwacu).