ifa: Since its independence in 1962, Burundi has suffered several coups and violent clashes. The civil war (1993 - 2006) cost the lives of 300'000 civilians. Since 2015 a new cycle of violence is ongoing. What have you observed over those past 5 years?
Pamela Capizzi: The current cycle of violence started in April 2015 when the then-President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third contested mandate. The mostly peaceful protests that followed were brutally repressed. To this day, thousands of journalists, human rights defenders and political opponents live in exile. The population remains prey to fear, abuse and rampant human rights violations in a climate of total impunity. Nkurunziza's recent death, few days after the highly contested election, gives Burundi the chance to start a new chapter in its history and to shed a light on the crimes of the past.
ifa: How does your project work contribute to victims gaining access to justice?
Capizzi: TRIAL International is probing new paths for victims. The organization strategically litigates a limited number of cases, aiming to create legal precedents. Litigation is coupled with advocacy. Despite the terrible abuses, this crisis is not very visible in the media and among decision-makers. We owe it to the victims to make their voice heard and ensure accountability in Burundi stays high on the international agenda. Finally, by supporting lawyers and human rights defenders, TRIAL International contributes to creating an environment where survivors are accompanied and can express their needs.
The non-governmental organisation TRIAL International fights against impunity for international crimes in Burundi and supports victims to access justice. By backing up lawyers and human rights defenders in documenting human rights violations and filing cases before national and supranational institutions, TRIAL International seeks to sustainably promote a culture of justice. TRIAL is funded by ifa's zivik Funding Programme.