Burundi: Freezing of assets of three new human rights organizations

11/12/2015
Press release
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Credit Yvan Rukundo / ANADOLU AGENCY

New information
BUR 003 / 1115 / OBS 098.1
Obstacles to freedom of association /
Harassment
Burundi
December 11, 2015

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Burundi:

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the Attorney General decision to freeze the assets of three human rights organizations, namely the ITEKA League, the Association for Research on the environment, the democracy and Human Rights in Burundi (AREDDHO) and the Union of education workers of Burundi (STEB Union), as well as a private newspaper, the African Public Radio Association (RPA).

According to information received on December 7th, 2015, the Attorney General of the Republic, Mr. Valentin Bagorikunda, sent a letter to banks in the country, asking them to forward account numbers and records of the ITEKA League, the AREDDHO, Union STEB and RPA Association for 2015. The Prosecutor also served notice of the freezing of these accounts until further notice.

According to the same information, on December 4th, 2015, the police reportedly seized four vehicles belonging to the RPA Association.

This suspension order is linked to an investigation into alleged incitement to violence in recent months in Burundi, as part of a series of riots held across the country to oppose the decision of President Nkurunziza to run for a third term.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern regarding the obstacles to freedom of association against the ITEKA League, the AREDDHO, the STEB Union and the Association RPA, which are part of a context of continued harassment of Burundian civil society and obstacles to the activities of human rights defenders. It calls on the Burundian authorities to stop all forms of harassment against NGOs and human rights defenders in Burundi.

Background:

On November 23rd, 2015, the Burundian Ministry of Interior ordered the temporary suspension of activities of ten Burundian NGOs of defense of human rights, namely: Christians Action for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT-Burundi), the Association for the protection of detainees and human rights (APRODH), the Association of non-active military (AMINA), the Forum for consciousness and Development (FOCODE), the Forum for the Strengthening of Civil Society (FORSC), the Fountain Isoko of good governance for Integrated Development (FONTAINE-Isoko), the Association Maison Shalom (Shalom House), Word and action for the awakening of consciences and evolution of mentalities (PARCEM), the Network of honest citizens (CPR) and Synergy of partners for the promotion of women’s rights (SPPDF).

This order for temporary suspension of these organizations is also linked to an investigation into alleged incitement to violence in recent months in Burundi.

Moreover, in a letter from November 19th, 2015, the Attorney General of the Republic, Mr. Valentin Bagorikunda, sent a letter to banks in the country, asking them to forward the account numbers and records for 2015 of the ACAT-Burundi, the APRODH, the AMINA, the FOCODE, the FORSC, FONTAINE-Isoko, PARCEM, RCP and SPPDF, as well as Mr. Pacifique Nininahazwe, President of the FOCODE, Mr. Vital Nshimirimana, FORSC delegate General, and Mr. Armel Niyongere, President of ACAT-Burundi. The Prosecutor has also served notice of the freezing of these accounts until further notice.

Actions required:

The Observatory urges you to write to the Burundi authorities and ask them to:

i. Guarantee, under all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders and their families in Burundi;

ii. End all forms of harassment, including administrative and judicial, against each organization mentioned above, as well as all human rights defenders and their families in Burundi;

iii. Remove immediately the assets freezing of organizations and defenders mentioned above;

iv. Comply with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1998, especially the following articles:
- Article 1 stating that “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
- Article 6(b), according to which, “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms
- Article 12.2 stating that “The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.

v. More generally, abide by the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the regional and international human rights instruments ratified by Burundi.

Addresses:

· H.E. Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic, Presidency of the Republic, Boulevard de l’Uprona, Rohero I, BP 1870, Bujumbura, Burundi. Fax: +257 22 22 74 90
· MrProsper Bazombanza, First Vice President, BP 1870, Bujumbura, Burundi. Fax: +257 22 22 64 24
· Lt General Major Pontien Gaciyubwenge, Minister of National Defence and War Veterans, Fax : +257 22 25 32 15 / 22 25 32 18, Email: mdnac@yahoo.fr
· Me Godeliève Ninahazwe, Minister of National Solidarity, Gender and Human Rights BP 6518, Bujumbura, Burundi. Fax: +257 22 25 82 50
· Commissioner Gabriel Nizigama, Minister of Public Security, BP 1910, Bujumbura, Burundi. Fax: + 257 22 24 53 51, Email: mininter@yahoo.fr
· Permanent Mission of Burundi to the United Nations, rue de Lausanne 44, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 732 77 34. Email: mission.burundi@bluewin.ch
· Embassy of Burundi in Brussels, Square Marie-Louise 46, 1000 Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 2 230 78 83, Email: ambassade.burundi@skynet.be

We suggest that you also write to the diplomatic representations of Burundi in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, 11th December 2015

Please inform the Observatory of any actions taken, and indicate the code number of this appeal.

The Observatory, a joint FIDH–OMCT programme aims to protect human rights defenders who are victims of violations and to bring them material assistance as quickly as possible.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail : Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax FIDH: 33 1 43 55 25 18 / 33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 2
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