The Burundi Human Rights Initiative’s report, “Hidden from view: sexual violence by Burundian troops in Congo’s South Kivu province”, documents rape, abductions, arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of Congolese civilians by members of the Burundian army since they were deployed to South Kivu, in the Democratic of Republic of Congo (DRC), in late to combat Burundian and Congolese armed groups. Members of the youth league of Burundi’s ruling party, the Imbonerakure, who fought with Burundian troops in the DRC during the unofficial phase of the operation until mid-, and members of Burundian armed opposition groups based in the DRC have also raped Congolese women.
Two incidents in illustrate the brutality of some Burundian soldiers. In a village in South Kivu’s Itombwe forest, Burundian soldiers rounded up three women and 12 children, took them to their base and held them for three days. One of the women said that Burundian soldiers raped her several times. In another incident, Burundian soldiers raped a 27-year-old woman and her 16-year-old sister-in-law, in front of the older woman’s three children.
Actions such as these breach international humanitarian law and may constitute war crimes.
Some of the Burundian commanders responsible for the troops in the DRC have been accused of serious human rights violations in Burundi in the past. They include Ignace Sibomana, deputy commander of Burundi’s land forces and former head of military intelligence during Burundi’s crisis, and Ildephonse Baranyikwa, who commanded the Burundian contingent in North Kivu as part of the East African Community regional force. The Burundian government has failed to hold them and other senior military officials accountable for these human rights violations and rewarded them with deployments to lucrative peacekeeping missions.
The report is available in English and French.