Burundian officials at the highest level should be held accountable for crimes against humanity and a list of suspects has been drawn up, a U.N. Commission of Inquiry said on Monday. By Reuters

(L-R) Francoise Hampson, Fatsah Ouguergouz and Reine Alapini Gansou, members of the UN Commission of inquiry on Burundi attend a news conference at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland September 4, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The commission said there are reasonable grounds to believe crimes against humanity had been committed since April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza said he would seek a third term in office.
The opposition said he was acting unconstitutionally. A government crackdown on protests followed and the ensuing upheaval triggered a food crisis and the exodus of over 400,000 refugees.
“The Commission has reasonable grounds to believe that... crimes against humanity are attributable primarily to state officials at the highest level and to senior officers and members of the National Intelligence Service, the police, the army and the Imbonerakure,” the report said.
The Imbonerakure, the youth league of the ruling party, received instructions to commit human rights violations from Nkurunziza’s office, it said.
Willy Nyamitwe, senior communication officer in the office of the president, told Reuters the report was an attempt at the “demonization” of Burundi’s state institutions.
“Those U.N. experts are mercenaries who act on command ... to validate what some people want to see or hear,” he said. “It’s war propaganda. They want to show to the world that the situation is tragic while it is calm.”
The report of the year-long inquiry, created by the U.N. Human Rights Council in September 2016, was based on more than 500 interviews with victims, witnesses and other sources. The government refused to cooperate.
Fatsah Ouguergouz, President of the UN Commission of inquiry on Burundi, attends a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland September 4, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
The commission said it had information about hundreds of executions, hundreds of people being tortured and around 40 rapes. But commission member Francoise Hampson said any attempt to give exact figures was spurious.
The report said the principal perpetrators were the defense and security forces, while the National Intelligence Service had carried out extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, acts of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and sexual violence.