UN human rights experts * today called on the governments of Tanzania and Burundi to respect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers who have fled Burundi, deploring reports of enforced disappearances, torture, forced returns and repression.
Arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances were reportedly carried out by the Tanzanian police and intelligence services in cooperation with Burundian intelligence services, experts said.
“In addition to the strict encampment policy imposed on them by the Tanzanian Government, Burundian refugees and asylum seekers now live in fear of being kidnapped in the middle of the night by the Tanzanian security forces and taken to a place unknown or to be forcibly removed. in Burundi, ”the experts said.
Burundian political opponents have reportedly been tracked down among the refugee and asylum-seeking population in Tanzania. The security situation in the camps appears to be extremely compromised amid reports that Burundian intelligence agents posing as refugees in the camps identify specific individuals who are subsequently arrested by Tanzanian security forces. “The government of Burundi must stop its crackdown on its citizens, including those seeking international protection in Tanzania,” experts said.
Refugees have confirmed that they were taken away by the Tanzanian police, subjected to enforced disappearances and torture before being turned back or forced to sign a “voluntary return”. Some were questioned about their alleged membership in armed groups and possession of weapons, their activities in the camps and, in some cases, asked for money to be released.
“We are extremely alarmed by reports that some Burundian refugees have been killed after being kidnapped by Tanzanian security forces,” the experts added.
Growing security concerns have prompted many to return to Burundi out of fear rather than a genuine desire to return to their country of origin.
“It is extremely disheartening that since the government announced in August 2020 that an investigation into the disappearances was underway, no results have yet been made public,” experts said. “The Tanzanian government is aware of the situation and must take all necessary measures to immediately end and remedy the violations.”
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