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Human Rights Watch welcomes probe into crimes against humanity in Burundi

Human Rights Watch welcomes probe into crimes against humanity in Burundi

This move comes weeks after Burundi officially exited the global court.The east African country became the first signatory of the Rome Statute - the law which established the ICC - to leave the body.

The prosecutor can also widen the probe to acts committed both before and after those dates "if certain legal requirements are met", and even investigate other atrocities such as suspected "genocide or war crimes", under the decision.

The court announced Thursday that the authorization was issued under seal on October 25, two days before Burundi's withdrawal from the ICC.

Laurentine says her country has the capacity to prosecute those behind the human rights violations.

The decision to launch the probe was made on October 25, but was kept under seal to help victims and potential witnesses, according to the ICC.

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Mr Abdallah said Burundi government has been given one month to notify the prosecutor if it is investigating the crimes itself. Burundi accused the court of targeting African countries. Burundi accepted those obligations when ratifying the Rome Statute.

"According to estimates, at least 1,200 persons were allegedly killed, thousands illegally detained, thousands reportedly tortured and hundreds disappeared", the court said in a statement.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said her investigation uncovered evidence that suggested police and security forces, "acting pursuant to a state policy, carried out a deliberate attack against the civilian population, entailing multiple acts of murder, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, enforced disappearance and persecution, constituting crimes against humanity".

Pre-Trial Chamber judges Chang-ho Chung (presiding judge), Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua and Raul C. Pangalangan permitted investigations regarding crimes allegedly committed by Burundi nationals or outsiders between April 26, 2015 and October 26, 2017.

In their decision, the judges found there was "a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation in relation to crimes against humanity". Accordingly, there is no conflict of jurisdiction between the Court and Burundi. If sufficient evidence would be collected to establish that specific individuals bear criminal responsibility, the Prosecutor would then request Judges of Pre-Trial Chamber III to issue either summonses to appear or warrants of arrest.

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