Burundi: EU extends sanctions for another year until 31 December 2021

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On 29 October 2020, the Council of the European Union extended for an additional year the sanctions regime against Burundian officials responsible for the violent repression in the country orchestrated by the government since 2015. Four individuals will continue to be under restrictive measures until October 2021 for their actions undermining democracy or obstructing the search for a political solution to the crisis in Burundi, or for their involvement in violations of international human rights law or international humanitarian law.

Despite Evariste Ndayishimiye’s accession to power last June, the political crisis in the country is far from being resolved and restrictions on democratic space are still in place. The authorities’ actions remain in line with former President Nkurunziza’s deadly policies. Widespread human rights violations continue to be committed across the country, not least by the ruling party’s militia Imbonerakure. Several human rights defenders are still arbitrarily detained, such as Germain Rukuki, Nestor Nibitanga and the four IWACU journalists. Meanwhile, the government has not taken any steps to bring the perpetrators of violations to justice, including the ones targeted by the EU sanctions, thereby reinforcing a climate of impunity that favours the repetition of crimes.

The individuals under EU sanctions retain influential positions within the state apparatus, along with other individuals who played a key role in the unprecedented crackdown that started in 2015. Their appointment to key positions within the new government is a cause for grave concern, as this not only allows them to continue planning and committing violations, but also shows the new President has no intention to operate any fundamental change in the deadly security policies carried by his predecessor.

The Council of the European Union’s decision to extend the sanctions regime came shortly after the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution renewing the mandate of its Commission of Inquiry on Burundi for another year.

FIDH and its member organisation in Burundi Ligue ITEKA have conducted major advocacy work at the EU and the UN on the human rights situation in the country for the past few years. Recently, our organisations carried a round of online advocacy meetings with EU Member States, urging them to extend the EU sanctions regime for an additional year and to support the renewal of the Commission of Inquiry at the UN.

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