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UN calls on ICC to investigate Burundi leadership for crimes against humanity

The International Criminal Court must hold Burundian officials at the highest level accountable for crimes against humanity concluded a United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Monday.

 “The Commission has reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity are attributable primarily to state officials at the highest level and to senior officers and members of the National Intelligence Service, the police, the army and the Imbonerakure [youth league of the ruling party],” the report said.

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, the head of the commission Fatsah Ouguergouz labelled the abuses a part of a ”general systematic attach against the civilian population that could be considered state policy.”

Adding that a list of suspects had been drawn up, the report said there were reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity had been committed since April 2015, reports Reuters.

The report, an outcome of a yearlong inquiry, mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2016, was based on interviews with over 500 victims, witnesses and other sources.

Burundi’s government refused to cooperate in the investigation process. 

Commenting on the ethnic dimension of the crimes, the commission said the Tutsi community was a target noting that it required further information before a decision on whether or not a genocide was taking place.

The report added that it was “not in a position to establish the existence of political will to destroy that ethnic group ‘in whole or in part,” as required by the definition of genocide.”

The commission called on the ICC investigation to start an investigation as soon as possible.  Burundi is a signatory to the Rome Statute and falls under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.