Since April 2015, the human rights situation in Burundi has markedly deteriorated, following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in office. Protests that erupted over the President’s decision to run for a third term were violently crushed and the rights to freedom of association, of assembly, and of expression have ever since been heavily curtailed. The Burundian authorities have effectively silenced independent media and the vast majority of human rights defenders have fled the country. Many of those who remain in Burundi continue to be subject to intimidation, threats, harassment, and physical attacks.
Extra-judicial and arbitrary killings remain routine, and torture, rape, sexual violence, and arbitrary arrests have all been reported by national and international monitoring groups. According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 240,000 Burundians fled the country between April 2015 and February 2016 to neighbouring countries including Rwanda, Tanzania, DRC, and Uganda, which has significantly heightened the spectre of greater regional spill over.
The December 2015 Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council culminated in the adoption of a resolution mandating the High Commissioner for Human Rights to deploy a mission by independent experts to visit the country to investigate human rights violations. The mission took place in March 2016 and found that while the crisis was less visible, violence continued to increase in the small Great Lakes country. In addition, the UN Security Council conducted a visit to Burundi in January 2016, followed by a visit from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 22 February 2016. Throughout these visits, the Burundian Government clearly expressed its rejection of the deployment of an AU or UN peacekeeping forces. On 1 April 2016, the UN Security Council voted to send a peacekeeping police force in Burundi to tackle persisting insecurity and restore stability to the country.
On 11 December 2015, Burundian security forces shot dead a large number of people, mostly in contested neighbourhoods of Bujumbura, following attacks on four military installations that were attributed to the opposition. A military spokesperson claimed that 87 people were killed, while independent national and international human rights groups believe this number may be much higher. National human rights monitoring groups have also reported the presence of several mass graves, which has been confirmed by Amnesty International through satellite imagery and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on 15 January 2016.
Freedom of association
Freedom of association in Burundi has continued to steadily deteriorate in the country, and most organisations have been forcibly closed, had their bank accounts frozen, and have had to cease their human rights activities.
On 23 November 2015, the Minister for Internal Affairs of Burundi suspended the activities of ten NGOs, including six major human rights organisations. The leaders of many of these organisations have been the subject of international arrest warrants, accused of taking part in the attempted coup, and have long since fled the country. 
Recently, on 28 March 2016, one of the suspended organisations, PARCEM, was allowed to resume activities, however there are concerns over whether it will be able to operate freely and independently given the current context. Since April 2015, over 100 human rights defenders have been forced to flee the country due to well-founded fears that they or their families will be targeted. On 6 November 2015, as the 57th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights was taking place, renowned human rights defender Pierre Claver Mbonimpa’s son was found dead mere hours after being arrested by the police.
Since October 2015, surveillance of the few remaining human rights organisations in the country has increased and intensified. Many human rights defenders have reported that their offices and homes are under surveillance, and some have had to close their offices and remove their equipment. The vehicles and equipment of certain organisations, including Radio Publique Africaine, have been seized. National human rights monitors remaining in the country have attempted to collaborate with regional and international observers and experts who have visited the country over the course of the past six months, however, this has often led them to flee the country for fear of reprisals.
Freedom of expression
Since the attempted coup d’état on 13 May 2015, most independent radio stations in Burundi have been forcibly closed and had their equipment partially or completely destroyed. The majority of journalists have fled the country, and those remaining are struggling to conduct investigations and report on the current situation. Several initiatives are underway to establish radios in exile, which would allow journalists who have fled Burundi to continue to report on the situation from the relative safety of surrounding countries.
In February 2016, the National Council for Communications gave permission to two private radios that had been banned from broadcasting since May 2015 to re-open. However the radios, Radio Isanganiro and Rema FM, were forced to sign an undertaking to be “balanced and objective” and not to threaten the country’s “security”. 
Independent newspaper Iwacu is one of the only independent media outlets still operating inside the country today, despite the difficulties faced by its journalists. On 16 November 2015, Antoine Kaburahe, the Director of Iwacu newspaper was summoned to the Prosecutor’s office, on the accusation that he had taken part in the failed coup d’état in May 2015. He was accused of plotting it alongside a number of other leading members of civil society, and was forced to flee the country after his hearing.
Arrests and enforced disappearances
Thousands of Burundians have been arrested and detained in official and unofficial detention sites, according to rights groups on the ground. Many have been targeted for their affiliation or perceived affiliation with the anti-third term movement, or to the political opposition, and have not been given access to their lawyers or their families.
On 10 December 2015, Marie-Claudette Kwizera, Treasurer of leading NGO Ligue Iteka, was abducted and forced into a vehicle of the National Intelligence Service in Bujumbura. Two days later, an intelligence agent informed her family that she was being detained in their offices, and demanded a ransom of 3.5 million Burundian francs. Despite the ransom being paid, no further information has been provided on her whereabouts, and neither her family nor her lawyers have been given access to her.
 “Burundi: Abductions, Killings, Spread Fear”, Human Rights Watch, 25 February 2016, https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/02/25/burundi-abductions-killings-spread-fear
 “Burundi Situation”, Inter-agency Information Sharing Portal, UNHCR, http://data.unhcr.org/burundi/regional.php
 Report of the Human Rights Council on its twenty-fourth special session (A/HRC/S-24/2), 17 December 2015, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/SpecialSessions/Session24/Pages/24thSpecialSession.aspx
 “African Union decides against peacekeepers for Burundi”, Al Jazeera, 1 February 2016, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/01/african-union-decides-peacekeepers-burundi-160131102052278.html
 “Burundi: Satellite Evidence Supports Witness Accounts Of Mass Graves”, Amnesty International, 28 January 2016, https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2016/01/burundi-satellite-evidence-supports-witness-accounts-of-mass-graves/
 “Alarming new patterns of violations emerging in Burundi”, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 15 January 2016, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16953&LangID=E#sthash.mFUGEMrj.dpuf
 List of 10 organisations: FOCODE, FORSC, FONTAINE ISOKO, APRODH, Maison SHALOM, AMINA, ACAT – Burundi, PARCEM, SPPDF, RCP
 “EHAHRDP strongly condemns assassination of Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa’s son and escalating violence in Burundi”, EHAHRDP, 6 November 2015, https://www.defenddefenders.org/2015/11/ehahrdp-strongly-condemns-assassination-of-pierre-claver-mbonimpas-son-and-escalating-violence-in-burundi/
 “Two of five closed radio stations allowed to reopen”, Reporters Without Borders, 23 February 2016, http://en.rsf.org/burundi-two-of-five-closed-radio-stations-23-02-2016.html
 “Dispatches: Fresh Attempts to Muzzle Free Speech in Burundi”, Human Rights Watch, 1 December 2015, https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/12/01/dispatches-fresh-attempts-muzzle-free-speech-burundi
 “Burundi: No news from Marie-Claudette Kwizera since her kidnapping, the Observatory refers the case to the UN”, International Federation for Human Rights, 22 January 2016, https://www.fidh.org/en/region/Africa/burundi/burundi-no-news-from-marie-claudette-kwizera-since-her-kidnapping-the