The report, released as peace talks resume in neighbouring Tanzania, claims that the government’s Service national de renseignement has used “increasingly vicious” methods to crack down on groups protesting against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term.
“Politically motivated torture by the Burundian intelligence services has reached new levels and has become increasingly vicious,” said Daniel Bekele, HRW’s Africa director.
Burundi has been wracked by violence with hundreds killed since Nkurunziza announced in April 2015 that he would stand for a third election, which he later won. The UN estimates that at least 350 people have been summarily executed and 651 tortured in Burundi between April 2015 and April 2016.
“Intelligence agents treat suspected opponents horrifically because they know they can get away with it,” said Bekele. “The government should call a halt to torture immediately.”
The report incorporated interviews with more than 40 torture victims since April who described how interrogators used pliers and dripped melted plastic onto interviewees. It claimed that intelligence agents worked alongside members of the Imbonerakure, a pro-government youth militia, and called for the UN Security Council to launch a commission to investigate abuses.
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