Burundi: Human rights continue to worsen ahead of 2020 elections

42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi

CIVICUS and independent Burundian civil society organisations welcome the important work of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, and specifically this report which provides critical oversight of the human rights situation in the country.

As the report makes clear, the human rights situation in Burundi remains dire and continues to worsen. Sustained monitoring and reporting is vital. The civic space in Burundi is closed, with independent and critical voices, including civil society organisations and human rights defenders, particularly targeted. We remain deeply concerned that the sentencing of human rights defender Germain Rukuki was upheld by the Court of appeals in July 2019.

Burundi is scheduled to hold elections in 2020. The fragile pre-electoral context and rising political tensions are likely to give rise to further human rights violations. We are particularly alarmed by the political intolerance of the ruling party’s youth wing “Imbonerakure” of political opposition members. Offices of political opposition parties have been burned or destroyed and members of those parties arbitrarily detained.

In light of the banning of international media and unwarranted restrictions imposed on independent private media in Burundi, it is imperative that human rights violations are documented by the international community. We urge the Council to renew the Commission’s mandate to ensure continued monitoring and documentation of the human rights situation in Burundi, especially ahead of the 2020 election, as limited civic and democratic space in the country hinders independent and critical sources of information. The renewal of the Commission’s mandate would make clear that obstructionism, indifference, and threats made by the Burundi government against the UN are not rewarded.

We call on the government of Burundi to fully cooperate and allow access to UN Human Rights Council mechanisms, and we ask the Commission of Inquiry what further support they need from the Human Rights Council to continue and strengthen their work?

 

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