The United Nations is effectively ending police units from Burundi in its Central African Republic mission because of their involvement in human rights abuses in their country, officials said Friday.
The 280 Burundian police will not be replaced when they end their tour of duty in Bangui around September, but some 840 military troops from Burundi will remain in MINUSCA for the time being.
“In light of the current situation in Burundi, a decision has been taken at UN headquarters not to replace the units serving in the country when their tour of duty ends,” said UN spokesman Farhan Haq.
Stefan Feller, the top police adviser for UN peacekeeping, said the decision was made “given the current allegations of serious and ongoing human rights violations in Burundi.”
The United Nations formally notified the Burundian mission in New York of the decision.
A Burundian non-governmental organisation, FOCODE, in February asked the United Nations to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by the Burundian police now serving in Bangui.
According to FOCODE, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza has rewarded soldiers and police who have been the most active in the repression of his political opponents with assignments to UN missions.
FOCODE said police officers now serving as peacekeepers had fired live rounds on demonstrators in Bujumbura and were involved in torture, extrajudicial killings, rapes and attacks on hospitals.
UN officials said they were examining the record of Burundian soldiers who could also face the same fate.
“We will continue to monitor the situation in the country and decide accordingly on the future of the military deployment,” said an official, speaking on background.
Burundi began contributing peacekeepers to the 12,000-strong MINUSCA in 2014.
More than 500 people have been killed in violence in Burundi triggered by Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term, which he won in July last year amid opposition boycotts.