In October 2017, the International Criminal Court ICC “authorized the prosecutor of the ICC to open an investigation into crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court alleged to have been committed in Burundi or by Burundian nationals outside their country since April 26, 2015 until October 26, 2017 “says the ICC
In an interview given by the ICC spokesman to the Voice of America in Entebbe, Uganda this week, the international court said the investigations have reached a satisfactory level.
“The investigation is taking place and must be confidential as a guarantee of its success. The team of the prosecutor’s office is in the process of gathering all the necessary evidence to determine what would be the most serious crimes that might fall under the authority of the ICC to prosecute possible perpetrators and the prosecutor will be able to go to the judges to request the opening of the accusations against those suspected of committing these crimes, “said Fadi El Abdallah.
This investigation, which follows the preliminary examination launched in April 2016 by the prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, concerns “in particular: murder and attempted murder, imprisonment or severe deprivation of liberty, torture, rape, forced disappearance and persecution “according to the ICC.
The violence that accompanied this crisis resulted in at least 1,200 deaths, the illegal detention of thousands of people and the torture of thousands, hundreds of disappearances and the displacement of more than 400,000 people between April 2015 and May 2017, according to the ICC estimation.
The ICC also asks the government party to bring its communication on the crimes allegedly committed by the opposite side.
“If the Burundian authorities also hold information that could be relevant to the crimes committed by people on the territory of Burundi, they provide them to the prosecutor’s office for them to be investigated. Because the ICC and the prosecutor’s office work impartially and independently and serve no political purpose, “he said.
On the question of when the issuance of international arrest warrants against alleged perpetrators, the spokesman of the ICC is cautious.
“We cannot say that because it is only after the prosecutor has had enough evidence that she will go to this stage and ask the judges to do so” suggests the Lebanese Fadi El Abdallah before reassuring that the alleged perpetrators must be prosecuted even though Burundi has withdrawn from the ICC since October 2017, the day after investigations began.
Yet last January, the group of Burundian lawyers claimed to have been in contact with more than 1600 victims and filed their communications before the ICC to be investigated.
Lawyer Armel Niyongere of this collective has also indicated that he is confident that international arrest warrants could be issued before the end of this year.
The International Criminal Court reassures that it contains several strategies for the execution of its arrest warrants.
“First, there are people who have surrendered themselves to the ICC, others can be arrested while traveling outside their country, and then there are arrest warrants. under confidential seal that is revealed only if the suspected persons are in a territory under the authority of a country that agrees to cooperate and arrest these people without having been aware of the existence of these mandates “says the spokesperson of the ICC.
To the victims of the Burundian crisis, the ICC is only asking for patience, evoking the example of Sudanese President Omar El Beshir.
“So to the victims, that they know that the justice will be returned to them, it advances but may not be at the rate of their wish. Even after ten years, the arrest warrants of the ICC never go into cancellation because they do not have prescriptions. Circumstances that protect people for a while can change and make arrests much easier, “concludes Fadi El Abadallah.
Burundi withdrew from the ICC with effect from 27 October 2017 but the international tribunal remained competent for the period preceding this date, where the country recognized the jurisdiction according to the sound spokesman.
This small country in Great Lakes Africa has publicly denounced these ICC investigations.
“The corrupted ICC has just shot itself in the foot again. Cheating is obvious. No doubt Burundi will win this battle; it is the last card of the West. “Burundian presidential spokesman Willy Nyamitwe responded on Twitter, just after the event.
Founded in 2002, the ICC is the only permanent court that judges war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and crimes of aggression.
According to the UN, Burundi is the scene of a violent crackdown by the government since the decision of President Pierre Nkurunziza, in April 2015, to seek a new term.