Thank you, Mr. President,

CIVICUS and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project welcome the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Burundi.

We note with extreme concern the dire deterioration of the situation, including restrictions on fundamental freedoms and arbitrary arrests and detentions, cruel and inhumane treatment, torture and extrajudicial executions, perpetrated by the armed forces and the Imborenakure.  This -as the report mentions- has created a climate of fear and intimidation, fuelled by high levels of impunity.

The report further highlights the closure and suspension of media houses, threats and intimidation of journalists which have forced many into exile. These attacks on the independent media have severely limited the publication of information relating to human rights violations and made it impossible for journalists to work, making the work of the expert mission all the more important.

Moreover, the suspension of several NGOs, and the freezing of the accounts of others have paralysed these organisations in order to prevent them from carrying out any activity.  Human rights defenders have been the subject of targeted assassinations, arbitrary detentions, intimidation and enforced disappearances.

Burundian civil society groups have documented increasing cases of extrajudicial executions, and are extremely concerned that many remain undocumented, particularly outside the capital Bujumbura. We regret that the government of Burundi has not allowed any independent investigations into alleged mass graves, and call on the government to immediately do so.

Mr President, our organisations believe that there is a critical, urgent and overwhelming need for increased monitoring and public reporting on the human rights situation in Burundi. Given the grave risks Burundian human rights defenders face when attempting to continue their human rights work, we believe that the Office of the High Commissioner in Burundi has a fundamental role to play in raising awareness of on-going violations in the country.

Moreover, we urge the Council to establish a Special Rapporteur mandate on Burundi to immediately take over from the mission of independent experts dispatched by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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