Human Right

UN Human Rights Council concerned about violations in Burundi

The commission of inquiry on Human Rights violations in Burundi has presented its first oral briefing to the Human Rights Council this 13 March, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The UN Human Rights Council is concerned about the gravity and scale of violations in Burundi

The UN Human Rights Council is concerned about the gravity and scale of violations in Burundi

Fatsah Ouguergouz, the chair of the commission says they are concerned at the scale and gravity of the human rights violations and abuses that have been brought to their attention. “The trends observed in 2015 and 2016 appear to be continuing, including persistent allegations of violations of the right to life and physical integrity, notably an increase in enforced disappearances”, he says. The chair of the commission also says the arrests, particularly of people suspected of participating in opposition groups, continue to be reported, as do allegations of torture.

Armel Niyongere, one of the Burundi human rights activists, says SOS Torture campaign has presented a 2016 report in which 46 people from 12 provinces were arbitrarily executed. 149 others from political parties including the ruling CNDD FDD party were killed. The same report reveals the killing of citizens in different areas of the country, the abduction of 74 people by the agents of security forces and the Imbonerakure youths, the torture of 128 people from Bururi, Bubanza, Kirundo and Gitega provinces as well as the arbitrary arrest of 4034 people in different areas of the country.”We have pledged the UN commission of inquiry to identify the authors and bring them to justice”, says Niyongere.

Fatsah Ouguergouz says the experts were concerned about the impunity enjoyed by people responsible for these violations. “We are particularly concerned by the near-complete impunity. Even when victims or witnesses are able to identify suspected perpetrators, cases of prosecution of State agents, or those who appear to have their support, are rare”, he says.

He calls on the Burundian Government to cooperate with the Commission. “We regret to date the lack of co-operation with the government of Burundi, although a member of the Council”. The commission will present its second briefing in June 2017 and the final report will be published in September 2017.

Speaking on behalf of Burundi Government to the UN Human Rights Council, Burundi Ambassador to Switzerland, Rénovat Tabu said the Government of Burundi didn’t recognize that commission of inquiry.

Jason Mack, who delivered the USA statement at the interactive dialogue with the commission on Burundi, said the country is still facing other challenges. “Although we are aware of the destabilization activities by the armed opposition, we call on the government to end extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, unknown places of detention and torture with impunity”, he says.

Mack also says the USA urges the government to take responsibility for its actions, and prioritize the development of a proactive, impartial, and transparent judiciary.

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at least 27,000 Burundians fled their country between 1 January and 9 March 2017. The total number of refugees who have fled Burundi since April 2015, mainly to neighboring countries are 391,700.