Burundi: Commission of Inquiry to Continue its Mission Investigating Human Rights Abuses

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The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on 6 October 2020 renewing the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi for another year, allowing it to continue its crucial work to investigate serious human rights violations committed in the context of the country’s political and security crisis.

Despite uncertainty surrounding the Commission’s future – it was the subject of harsh discussions among Council member states – the Commission won its biggest victory since its creation in 2016, with 24 votes for its renewal and six against it, with 17 abstentions. The member states of the Human Rights Council considered that there was still a need to maintain this independent mechanism to investigate the situation in Burundi.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation for Burundi, Ligue ITEKA, have worked hard for the renewal of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry as part of our long-standing work on the human rights situation in Burundi. More recently, ahead of this Council session, FIDH and Ligue ITEKA carried out major advocacy work on the renewal of the Commission’s mandate with key actors, notably European Union member states. Our organisations also co-signed a joint public letter from civil society, and intervened orally during the debate dedicated to the situation in Burundi under point 4 of the agenda.

Our organisations therefore welcome the Council’s adoption of resolution A/HRC/RES/45/19, which takes into account our analysis of the situation and our recommendations, in particular by recognising the persistence of serious human rights violations, the lack of progress in the fight against impunity, and the lack of cooperation with the international community and human rights mechanisms.

The Commission of Inquiry on Burundi was established in 2016 by the Human Rights Council to independently investigate serious human rights violations committed in the context of the political and security crisis in the country since April 2015, following the highly contested re-election of the late President Pierre Nkurunziza for an unconstitutional third term. Since then, the Commission’s mandate has been renewed every year by the Council, due to the lack of progress on human rights in the country, but also due to the lack of independent actors to lead this work.

The UN Human Rights Council passed the resolution at its 45th ordinary session held from 14 September to 7 October 2020.

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