UN removes Burundi staff officer from its peacekeeping mission

The UN has removed from its peacekeeping mission Major Nicolas Budigi over allegations of human rights violations in Burundi.

Local administrative officials in CAR visit the Burundi peacekeeping contingent

Local administrative officials in CAR visit the Burundi peacekeeping contingent

The UN has repatriated Burundi army officer Major Nicolas Budigi from MINUSCA, a UN peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic (CAR).

The repatriation followed allegations that the officer has been involved in acts of human rights violations in Burundi in 2015.

“We were asked [by the Inner City Press] about allegations of human rights violations regarding an individual staff officer from Burundi deployed to our mission in the Central African Republic, MINUSCA, in January”, said UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq during the noon briefing session on 21 February 2017.

He said that after looking into the “information received by the Secretariat regarding these serious allegations from 2015, prior to deployment with MINUSCA, we have decided to repatriate the officer with immediate effect”.

Gaspard Baratuza, the spokesman for the Burundi Army, reticently says the repatriation was made on the basis of unfounded accusations relayed on Twitter by detractors of the officer who “attacked him starting when he was deployed”.

“Those who decided to expel him from the peacekeeping mission did not come and make their own investigations”, he says. “They relied only on allegations by people like Pacifique [Nininahazwe, an exiled rights activist] who are against him probably because he refused to do what they asked him to do for them”.

Major Budigi was deployed to the MINUSCA last January. The UN Deputy Spokesman said he didn’t know how the officer avoided the first screening. He said after the allegations were brought to the UN, “there has been some further look into the allegations against Mr Budigi and as a result of that he’s been repatriated”.

The UN has banned from its peacekeeping missions a number of Burundi army officers, including the current Army Spokesman Gaspard Baratuza, alleged to have violated human rights.