Human Rights Council to Burundi: “You Are Under Scrutiny”

Press release
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(Geneva) The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) sent a strong message to the government of Burundi today by adopting a resolution that will allow it to scrutinize the country’s human rights situation from now on and throughout 2016.

But the real test will be whether Burundian authorities will heed the HRC’s call on the ground, cease their crackdown on independent voices and bring perpetrators of violations and abuses to justice.

“In light with the gravity of the crisis in Burundi, we expected the Human Rights Council to act responsibly. This resolution is an important step which attests to the Council’s capacity to respond to human rights emergencies. However, the UN should keep pressuring the Burundian government by regularly and publicly reporting on the human rights situation in the country.” Karim Lahidji, President of FIDH

The resolution condemns the numerous human rights violations committed in Burundi, calls on the authorities to prevent further violations and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice, and provides for strengthened activities of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the country. Most importantly, the HRC will hold public debates on Burundi at its three regular sessions next year (March, June and September 2016).

“The Burundian government is now under the close scrutiny of the Human Rights Council. It should think twice before pursuing its crackdown on dissent. Should it ignore the message sent, HRC member states should be ready to embrace a more condemnatory approach and appoint a Special Rapporteur to report on the country.” Paul Nsapu Mukulu, Secretary-General of FIDH

Burundi’s human rights crisis was triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s campaign and election for a third term, which many opposition and civil society actors do not recognize. In recent weeks, there has been an increase in targeted killings, with members of the ruling party, as well as opposition groups, among the victims, which indicates a pattern of reprisal attacks. Violations committed in the country include widespread excessive use of force against protesters, intimidation, arbitrary arrests, torture and other forms of ill-treatment of demonstrators, suspected government opponents and other detainees. Burundi had not been addressed by the Human Rights Council since the mandate of a dedicated, country-specific UN Independent Expert was discontinued, in 2011.

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