Nearly 20 human rights groups are urging the United Nations Security Council to impose targeted sanctions against officials accused of gross human rights violations in Burundi.
The 19 organizations include Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights.
In a letter sent to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, they say "some intelligence, army and police agents ... had been killing, torturing, beating innocent people including those fleeing to the neighboring countries in all impunity." The letter says they were aided by members of the youth wing of the ruling party.
Burundi has been in violent political turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza in 2015 successfully pursued a third term that many called unconstitutional. Hundreds have died and nearly 500,000 people have fled the country.
The U.N. secretary-general’s special adviser for the prevention of genocide, Adama Dieng, recently warned in a letter to the Security Council of "the risks of massive violence if nothing is done."
Dieng also expressed concern that peace talks to address the crisis were at a "standstill."
Burundi’s ambassador to the U.N., Albert Shingiro, said Wednesday on his Twitter account that "disproportionate media & diplomatic harassment 4 regime change in Burundi continues."