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The African Nation of Burundi Agrees to War Crimes Tribunals and Truth Commissions

The African Nation of Burundi Agrees to War Crimes Tribunals and Truth CommissionsThe central African nation of Burundi has agreed to set up a war crimes tribunal and truth and reconciliation committee to examine atrocities during its 12-year civil war. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, was in the region as part of a 12-day tour of central Africa, including Rwanda and other Great Lakes countries. Arbour stated that Burundi would set up the two commissions and agreed to not provide amnesty for suspected perpetrators of war crimes, genocide, or other atrocities. Recently, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched an investigation into allegations of "massive rapes and other acts of sexual violence" perpetrated by officials of the Central African Republic.

Burundi, a small country bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, is still reeling from decades of civil war that killed more than 300,000 in conflicts between the Hutu majority and Tutsi minority rebel groups. The current government of President Pierre Nkurunziza came to power from the optimism following a UN backed peace plan. However, Nkuranziza, himself a Hutu, has been implicated in complicity with mass killings, assassinations and torture at the hands of his security agents.

Critics have speculated on the willingness of Nkuranziza's administration to comply with the UN commissions, though Arbour has noted an "important consensus" by the Burundi government. Human Rights Watch has suggested further aid to the region be linked to ending impunity.

Burundi has been embroiled in ethnic conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi groups since gaining independence from Belgium in 1962.

There has been no timetable established for the UN commissions.

Reuters/AP/UN News Centre



Daniel Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer for United Press International covering Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Levant. He has published works on international and constitutional law pertaining to US terrorism cases and on child soldiers. His first major work, entitled The United States and Israel: The Implications of Alignment, is featured in the text, Strategic Interests in the Middle East: Opposition or Support for US Foreign Policy. He holds a MA in Diplomacy and International Conflict Management from Norwich University, where his focus was international relations theory, international law, and the role of non-state actors.

Areas of Focus:International law; Middle East; Government and Politics; non-state actors