The Human Rights Council takes responsible action to prevent the worst in Burundi

Press release
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(Paris-Geneva) By adopting a resolution that condemns the serious crimes committed in Burundi, the UN Human Rights Council took responsible action to try and prevent the worst as the country is sliding further towards violence and the risk of genocide is real. This resolution also establishes an international commission of inquiry, which will be able to transmit evidence it gathers to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and contribute to bringing those responsible for crimes to justice.

“The Human Rights Council’s response to the Burundian crisis is the strongest it could formulate within its mandate. While it steps up the pressure on the country’s authorities, the resolution ought to complement efforts that African institutions and the UN Security Council should keep on making, including through the deployment of an international police force with the means of ending the current spiral of violence”.

Anschaire Nikoyagize, President of Ligue ITEKA

The resolution adopted today is based on the final report of three independent experts who investigated the human rights violations committed in Burundi since the beginning of the crisis, which was triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s will to remain in power beyond his second constitutionally-mandated term. Their report indicates that “given the country’s history, the danger of the crime of genocide also looms large.”

The resolution strongly condemns the gross and systematic human rights violations committed in Burundi – including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, and acts of torture –, some of which may amount to crimes against humanity. It also condemns the widespread impunity in the country and acts of incitement to ethnic violence and hatred.

The resolution insists on the fact that accountability for those responsible for crimes – most of whom are members of the security forces and Imbonerakure [1] – is central to efforts to put an end to the escalation of violence. The commission of inquiry will be tasked with identifying alleged perpetrators of violations. Finally, the resolution raises concern over the consequences that the situation in Burundi may have on regional stability, and calls for action to prevent an intensification of the crisis. The African Union, The East African Community and the United Nations have all acted in accordance with their respective mandates; they should immediately take further concrete action to stop a regionalization of the crisis.

“Pierre Nkurunziza, his supporters, and all those who chose the path of violence should be aware that they will not get away with their crimes. The ICC, which opened a preliminary examination of the situation in Burundi and should now open an investigation, will be able to make use of the work of the new commission of inquiry in order to prosecute perpetrators of international crimes and to send a signal to those who may be tempted to follow suit.”

Dimitris Christopoulos, FIDH President

Since the beginning of the crisis, in April 2015, FIDH and Ligue ITEKA have raised the alarm with African and international institutions on the gravity of the violations committed and their possible repercussions on regional stability. At the Human Rights Council, our organizations advocated for the holding of regular public debates on Burundi and for a special session dedicated to the country. The resolution adopted today is in line with these efforts, which have allowed for a documentation of violations and increased international pressure on the Burundian authorities.

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