UN Human Rights Council – 40th regular session
Interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi
CIVICUS is extremely concerned that grave human rights violations in Burundi continue without any signs of abating.
The Commission of Inquiry reported in September 2018 that serious violations, including crimes against humanity, remained routine. During the May 2018 referendum, local authorities, the youth wing of the ruling party, the police and intelligence services summarily executed, abducted, detained and intimidated those who voted against the constitutional changes or those perceived to have done so. In total more than 20 people were killed in incidences related to the referendum.
The 32-year jail sentence handed to human rights defender Germain Rukuki under trumped up charges of “participating in an insurrectionist movement and breaching state security” despite repeated calls for his release from the international community is a vivid reflection of the state of human rights in Burundi. Other human rights defenders have been jailed under similar circumstances. Three representatives of the CSO – PARCEM are serving ten-year sentences after being charged with “threatening national security,” and human rights defender Nestor Nibitanga is also in detention in an unrelated case.
Mr. President, media restrictions continue as most private radio stations remain closed since 2015. The National Communication Agency suspended the broadcasting licenses of the BBC and VOA after accusing them of violating Burundi’s media laws. The activities of more than130 INGOs providing vital health and social services in Burundi were affected after they were banned in Burundi for three months in September 2018.
We call for the immediate release of all human rights defenders and urge Burundi to fully cooperate with the COI and re-open the OHCHR office.