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Africa

Burundi: EU levels sanctions against 4 high-ranking security and intelligence officials

media Burundi police patrol the streets of Musaga district in the capital Bujumbura … Burundi police patrol the streets of the Musaga district in the capital Bujumbura after the results of the elections, 24 July 2015. Reuters/Mike Hutchings

The European Council on Friday named four Burundi officials targeted with travel restrictions and asset freezes for a violent crackdown on protests and a failed coup attempt. The four people are said to be “undermining democracy or obstructing efforts to achieve a political solution to the current crisis in Burundi”.

The individuals are said to have been involved in perpetrating “acts of violence, repression or incitement to violence, including acts which constitute serious human rights violations”, according to a statement by the EU published on Thursday.

As detailed in the EU’s Official Journal on Friday, the travel ban and economic sanctions apply to:

  • Godefroid Bizimana: “Deputy Director-General of the National Police, responsible for undermining democracy by making operational decisions that have led to a disproportionate use of force and acts of violent repression towards peaceful demonstrations”
  • Gervais Ndirakobuca, alias Ndakugarika: “Head of Cabinet of the Presidential Administration (Présidence) responsible for matters relating to the National Police. Responsible for obstructing the search for a political solution in Burundi by issuing instructions that led to disproportionate use of force, acts of violence, acts of repression and violations of international human rights law against protestors demonstrating”
  • Mathias-Joseph Niyonzima, alias Kazungu: “Officer of the National Intelligence Service. Responsible for obstructing the search for a political solution in Burundi by inciting violence and acts of repression during the demonstrations”
  • Léonard Ngendakumana: “Former ‘Chargé de Missions de la Présidence’ and former army general. Responsible for obstructing the search for a political solution in Burundi by participating in the attempted coup d'état of 13 May 2015 to overthrow the Burundi Government”

President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to stand for a third term in office earlier this year sparked protests and a subsequent violent crackdown on demonstrators. In May, a group of army officers led by renegade General Godefroid Niyombare launched a failed coup attempt.

The UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has warned about a rise in killings, arrests and detentions in Burundi.

“Almost every day, dead bodies are found lying on the streets of some of Bujumbura's neighbourhoods,” he said in a statement Monday.

"In many cases, the victims appear to have been killed by a bullet fired at close range. The bodies sometimes show signs of torture and are typically found with their hands tied behind their backs," he said.

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