In 2019, widespread human rights abuses continued in Burundi, including extrajudicial executions, disappearances, arbitrary arrests, sexual violence, beatings, and intimidation of suspected political opponents. The influx of returning and new refugees put increased strain on the country, exacerbating food insecurity and the spread of malaria. Space for civil society and the media continued to shrink, with increasing numbers of non-governmental organisations seeing their work restricted, suspended, or stopped entirely. Our local partners were also seriously affected, as they faced a number of challenges to their work due to this constraining environment, and which resulted in their work ending in August.
However, in the time they were active, they
continued their vital work to report on violence and human rights abuses. In
2019, 1,446 incidents were reported; alerting communities to cases of
escalating tensions, and intervening against human rights abuses so that
violence stopped before taking root. 109 citizen reporters continued to
coordinate violence monitoring activities, and 12 reports were distributed to
raise awareness of the situation. Through the reporting system and training
provided, members of the networks around the country were able to successfully
intervene to prevent wrongful arrests and arbitrary detentions.
Stories from the frontlines
"I alerted the local Judicial Police Officer about the illegal detention of two men from the local municipality. The men were travelling to Tanzania in search of work and had been detained by two young Imbonerakure (youth affiliated to the ruling party) in an illegal cell. The officer took the victims and perpetrators on board. And after 30 minutes of interrogation, he released the victims and asked the perpetrators to give them their money.” (quote edited for clarity)
“My name is Marie*. I am 45 years old. My integration into the network was of capital importance to me. After an incident where a man was beaten and imprisoned by young Imbonerakure, I followed the case to the detention center and spoke with the Judicial Police Officer by testifying about his innocence. The victim was taken to hospital and was later released. My pride in this work I owe to the achievements of the training and received from the network since 2014.” *Name changed for security reasons.
These are two examples of work carried out by citizen reporters who are part of the network we support in Burundi. Explore more stories from frontline peacebuilders throughout our Impact Report.