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Amnesty: Detainees in Burundi Tortured

FILE - Police drive by the scene of a grenade attack on a parked car downtown Bujumbura, Burundi, Monday July 20, 2015.

Amnesty International has accused Burundian security agencies of detaining anti-government protesters and beating them to extract so-called confessions and silence dissent.

A report titled “Just Tell Me What To Confess To" says authorities are responsible for acts of torture and other ill-treatment against people arrested after protests erupted in Burundi in April. That's when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term, angering opponents who said he was violating constitutional term limits.

Amnesty's deputy regional director, Sarah Jackson, listed some of the accusations.

“The intelligence service used iron bars to beat detainees, the police service used electric wires and batons to severely beat detainees, we have cases of demonstrators being tortured and forced into making false confessions and others have been asked to reveal the names of people who were involved in the protest movement," said Jackson.

U.N. monitors have documented similar cases involving protesters in detention.
The U.N. human rights office also says it has evidence the security forces and the Imbonerakure militia group killed dozens of demonstrators and rights activists.

Jackson says security officers forced detainees to admit taking part in the protests.

"They are forcing detainees to confess a range of things often related to participation in the protest or other things taking place around the protests," said Jackson. "Some of them have been forced to confess in relation to security charges but we have one very compelling example of one man and he says, 'They told me if you don’t confess we will kill you.'”

Amnesty is calling on Burundian authorities to act against officers involved in the torture and abuse of detainees.

Burundian officials were not available for comment.

President Nkurunziza was sworn in last Thursday, pledging to end the violence and calling on those who fled the country to return.