March 31, 2016
The United States expresses deep concern over the death yesterday of Jacques Bihozagara, a former Rwandan ambassador and government minister, in the Bujumbura, Burundi, prison where he had been detained since 2015. Mr. Bihozagara’s death highlights abiding concerns about inhumane prison conditions in Burundi, as well as persistent credible reports of arbitrary arrests, increased torture, the presence of underground detention facilities, and disappearances of individuals detained by security forces.
While Burundian authorities have allowed independent experts from the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) access to some political prisoners, the conditions for thousands of prisoners are unknown. We remain concerned about a lack of due process in many of their cases. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid reported to the Security Council this month that over half the detainees his team met with in Burundi showed signs of having been tortured.
We call on the Government of Burundi to provide unfettered access to monitors and observers from OHCHR, the AU, and other independent organizations to monitor the conditions of prisoners and prison facilities, as well as to investigate broader allegations of human rights abuses.