Burundi

 

  • Burundi: les disparitions et les arrestations continuent en amont des élections de mai

    Déclaration à la 43ème session de Conseil des droits de l'homme des Nations Unies durant le dialogue interactif avec la Comission d'enquête des Nations Unies sur le Burundi

    CIVICUS et les organisations indépendantes de la société civile burundaise saluent le travail important de la Commission d'enquête et remercient celle-ci pour son actualisation, malgré le refus persistant du gouvernement du Burundi d'accorder l'accès au pays.

    A quelques mois des élections générales prévues pour le mois de mai, la situation des droits humains et de la sécurité reste précaire. Les disparitions forcées et les détentions arbitraires d'opposants et d'autres voix dissidentes se poursuivent sans relâche. En janvier 2020, Jacques Nibigira, Gilbert Ndayishimiye, Eslon Nshinyabigoye et Juma ont été arrêtés par le service de renseignement burundais. On ignore toujours où ils se trouvent.  En octobre 2019, les journalistes Christine Kamikazi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Égide Harerimana et Térence ont été arbitrairement arrêtés alors qu'ils enquêtaient sur les activités des rebelles. Le défenseur des droits humains Germain Rukuki est toujours en prison et purge une peine de 32 ans de prison sous de fausses accusations de "rébellion".

    Le 16 janvier 2020, le journaliste Blaise Pascal Kararumiye a été arrêté et détenu au secret pendant cinq jours par le gouverneur de la province de Karuzi, puis libéré sans aucune charge. La liberté d'expression, l'accès à l'information et l'association restent limités au Burundi. Des membres d'autres partis politiques ont été violemment attaqués par la branche jeunesse du parti au pouvoir. Nous craignons que de telles attaques se poursuivent à l'approche des élections.

    Nous demandons au gouvernement du Burundi de coopérer pleinement et de permettre l'accès aux mécanismes du Conseil des droits de l'homme des Nations unies, y compris la Commission d'enquête ; et à tous les mécanismes des Nations unies sur la paix, la sécurité et les droits de l'homme de soutenir pleinement les travaux et les recommandations de la Commission. Nous appelons en outre le Conseil à tenir sérieusement compte de l'analyse des facteurs de risque effectuée par la Commission et à prendre des mesures pour prévenir les atrocités et faire en sorte que le gouvernement du Burundi soit tenu responsable de ses violations des droits de l'homme.

    Nous demandons à la Commission si elle prévoit le déploiement d'une mission d'observation avant, pendant et après les prochaines élections afin que les violations des droits de l'homme liées aux élections puissent être signalées en temps utile pour contribuer à prévenir l'escalade de la violence électorale.

     

     

  • Burundi: Les violations généralisées des droits de l'homme persistent

    Déclaration à la 44e session du Conseil des droits de l'homme des Nations unies

    Dialogue interactif avec la Commission d'enquête des Nations unies sur le Burundi


    Je vous remercie, Madame la Présidente ;

    CIVICUS et les organisations indépendantes de la société civile burundaise saluent le travail important de la Commission d'enquête, et remercient la Commission pour sa mise à jour, en notant le refus continu du gouvernement du Burundi d'accorder l'accès au pays.

    Nous félicitons le Burundi pour ses élections, et le nouveau président Évariste Ndayishimiye, et les nouvelles possibilités d'engagement qu'elles offrent. Toutefois, les processus électoraux ont été caractérisés par un rétrécissement de l'espace démocratique et des violations de la liberté d'expression, d'association et de réunion pacifique. Les fermetures d'Internet et les blocages des réseaux sociaux ont sapé l'accès à l'information. Nous sommes également profondément déçus par la nomination de personnes faisant l'objet de sanctions internationales pour des violations flagrantes des droits de l'homme à des postes clés du gouvernement, notamment le Premier ministre et le ministre de l'intérieur. 

    Nous sommes sérieusement préoccupés par le fait que les membres de la ligue des jeunes du parti au pouvoir, l'Imbonerakure, souvent avec des fonctionnaires locaux, le service national de renseignement et la police, continuent de commettre des violations généralisées des droits de l'homme, notamment des meurtres, des arrestations arbitraires, des extorsions, des passages à tabac et des intimidations, qui visent souvent les opposants politiques et leurs familles. La société civile et les médias indépendants ont été interdits, contraints de fermer ou empêchés de critiquer le gouvernement. Les journalistes qui enquêtent sur des questions de sécurité ou de droits de l'homme sont victimes d'intimidations, de surveillance et de poursuites, tandis que les médias font l'objet d'interdictions, de suspensions et de réglementations indûment restrictives qui étouffent les reportages indépendants.

    Le 5 juin, la cour a rejeté l'appel des journalistes Christine Kamikazi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Égide Harerimana et Térence Mpozenzi du groupe de médias Iwacu, qui avaient été arbitrairement arrêtés alors qu'ils enquêtaient sur les activités des rebelles en octobre 2019. Ils continuent leur peine de deux ans et demi de prison.

    Nous appelons le nouveau gouvernement du Burundi à coopérer pleinement avec la Commission d'enquête de l'ONU et à lui accorder l'accès nécessaire. Nous appelons également le gouvernement à libérer sans condition toutes les personnes détenues pour des raisons politiques, y compris les militants et les défenseurs des droits de l'homme.

    Nous demandons à la Commission de s'engager avec le nouveau président sur les crimes perpétrés pendant la dernière présidence afin de garantir la vérité et la justice pour les victimes ; et si la Commission identifie des opportunités à la lumière de la nouvelle présidence, pour un engagement renouvelé avec le gouvernement pour la mise en œuvre de ses recommandations passées et l'amélioration des droits de l'homme dans le pays. 


    L'espace civique au Burundi est actuellement classé comme fermé par le CIVICUS Monitor.

    Membres actuels du Conseil :

    Afghanistan, Allemagne, Angola, Argentine, Arménie, Australie, Autriche, Bahamas, Bahraïn, Bangladesh, Bulgarie, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Chili, Danemark, ErithréeEspagne, Fidji, Inde, Indonésie, Italie, Libye, Iles Marshall, Mauritanie, Mexico, Namibie, NépalNigeriaPakistan, Pays-BasPérou, PhilippinesPologneQuatar, République de CoréeRépublique démocratique du CongoRépublique tchèque, Sénégal, Slovaquie, Somalie, Soudan,Togo, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela

    Classement de l'espace civique par le CIVICUS Monitor

    OUVERT    RETRECI OBSTRUE  REPRIME FERME

     

     

  • Burundi: Political activists arrested earlier this month and journalists remain in prison since 2019

    Statement at the 45th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Interactive Dialogue with the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi

     


    CIVICUS and independent Burundian civil society organisations welcome the important work of the Commission of Inquiry, and thank the Commission for its report. 

    We welcome that President Ndayishimiye has invited more than 300,000 refugees to return to Burundi, having previously been forced to flee the country. But despite remarks by President Ndayishimiye during his inauguration speech promising accountability and a more transparent approach to tackling human rights violations, the police, the National Intelligence Service, and members of the armed wing of the ruling CNDD-FDD party – the Imbonerakure – continue to harass and intimidate human rights defenders and activists. Several members of the new government are subject to international individual sanctions for their alleged responsibility in human rights violations in Burundi since 2015. We call for thorough and impartial investigations to end impunity.

    Last week, two former military officers, Pontien Baritonda and Prime Niyongabo, were arrested by the NSI. They remain in detention without charge. 29 political activists were arrested earlier this month. Journalists Christine Kamikazi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Égide Harerimana and Térence, of Iwacu media group, remain in prison for investigating rebel activities in October 2019.

    We call on the government to unconditionally release all politically motivated detainees including activists, human rights defenders and journalists and to carry out credible investigations into attacks against them. We further call on the government to lift bans on broadcasting outlets, end the use of internet disruptions to control the flow of information, and review repressive legislation.

    The political transition in Burundi presents an opportunity to reset Burundi’s relationship with the UN human rights system. We ask the commission to elaborate on opportunities for renewed engagement with the government for the implementation of its findings and recommendations, particularly towards accountability.

     With real opportunities for meaningful human rights progress in Burundi, we further call on the Council to renew this vital mandate at this critical time.


    Civic space in Burundi is rated as Closed by the CIVICUS Monitor

     

  • Burundi: Progress since 2020 elections, but rights abuses persist

    Statement at the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council 
    Delivered by Cyriaque Nibitegeka

    CIVICUS and independent Burundian civil society organisations welcome the important work of the Commission of Inquiry and thank the Commission for its update. 

    We welcome the Presidential pardon of four journalists of Iwacu media group, who were prosecuted for investigating rebel activities in the country in October 2019. We also welcome the return of about 3,000 refugees from Rwanda, having previously been forced to flee the country. 

    But serious human rights violations and abuses have continued since the 2020 elections, often with a view to deprive the main opposition party of opportunities to re-organise. These are mainly committed by members of the Imbonerakure youth league of the ruling party and by local officials who continue to enjoy nearly total impunity, often with participation from or tacit support of security officers.

    Several recent returnees are reported missing, and the extrajudicial killings, arrests and arbitrary detentions of opposition members are far from ending. In February alone, there were at least 17 cases of extrajudicial execution, 170 cases of arbitrary detention and five cases of torture. Germain Rukuki, a human rights activist sentenced to 32 years in prison in April 2018, remains deprived of his liberty.

    We call on the government to unconditionally release all politically motivated detainees including activists and human rights defenders.

    The new administration in Burundi still has an opportunity to reset Burundi’s relationship with UN human rights mechanisms. We ask the commission to elaborate on opportunities for renewed engagement with the government for the implementation of its findings and recommendations, particularly towards accountability and long-term reform. 


    Civic space in Burundi is rated as Closed by the CIVICUS Monitor

     

  • Burundi: Rapport du Dialogue sur la Démocratie: 17 août 2018

    Dialogue sur la Démocratie organisé par l’Association des Amis de la Nature, Kampala, 17 août 2018

     

  • Burundi: The Human Rights Council should continue its scrutiny and pursue its work towards justice and accountability

    To Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland

    Excellencies,
     
    At the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council (the Council) in October 2020, the Council renewed the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Burundi for a further year. This allowed the only independent mechanism mandated to document human rights violations and abuses, monitor, and publicly report on the situation in Burundi to continue its work. By adopting resolution 45/19, the Council recognised that changing political circumstances do not equate to human rights change, and maintained its responsibility to support victims and survivors of violations and continue working to improve the situation in the country.
     
    Ahead of the Council’s 48th session (13 September-8 October 2021), we are writing to urge your delegation to support efforts to ensure that the Council continues its scrutiny and pursues its work towards justice and accountability in Burundi. In the absence of structural improvements, and in view of the recent increase in human rights violations against persons perceived as government opponents, we consider that there is no basis, nor measurable progress, that would warrant a departure from the current approach or a failure to renew the mandate of the CoI. At the upcoming session, at minimum, the Council should adopt a resolution that reflects realities on the ground, including the following elements.
     
    First, the resolution should acknowledge that despite some improvements over the past year, the human rights situation in Burundi has not changed in a substantial or sustainable way. All the structural issues the CoI and other human rights actors have identified since 2015 remain in place. In recent months, there has been an increase in arbitrary arrests of political opponents or those perceived as such, as well as cases of torture, enforced disappearances and targeted killings, apparently reversing initial progress after the 2020 elections. Serious violations, some of which may amount to crimes against humanity, continue. Impunity remains widespread, particularly relating to the grave crimes committed in 2015 and 2016.1 Even if some human rights defenders have been released, national and international human rights organisations are still unable to operate in the country.
     
    The resolution should acknowledge that any substantive change to the Council’s consideration of Burundi’s situation is dependent on demonstrable and sustainable progress on key human rights issues of concern. The Council’s approach should rely on benchmarks designed to measure tangible progress and based on key indicators identified by the CoI.2 The Burundian Government should acknowledge existing human rights challenges explicitly and grant access to and cooperate with independent human rights mechanisms. It should also design a clear implementation plan and timeframe.
     
    Second, the Council’s approach should focus on the following core functions:
     
    (i) Continued independent documentation of violations and abuses, monitoring of, and public reporting on, the human rights situation in Burundi, with adequate resources. 
    These functions remain essential, espe­cial­ly in the absence of a strong human rights movement and independent institutions in Burundi. This work should be conducted by the CoI, or a similarly inde­pendent mechanism or team of experts, who are solely focused on Burundi and use professio­nal me­tho­dologies to collect detailed information. The mechanism or team should be mandated to esta­blish responsibilities and identify all those suspected of criminal responsibility. To follow up on the CoI’s previous work, including on links between human rights violations and economic networks and corruption, it should en­ga­ge in thorough analysis of political, social, and economic dynamics in Burundi. To do so, it requires an adequate level of expertise, resources, and staffing.
    (ii) Follow up to the work and recommendations of the CoI, in particular on justice and accountability.
    The reports and recommendations of the CoI since 2017 form a road map for reform, particularly in the area of justice and accountability. The Burundian Government has not taken meaningful steps to resume cooperation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) or to cooperate with regional human rights mechanisms.3 The national human rights institution, the Commission Nationale Indépendante des Droits de l’Homme du Burundi (CNIDH), lacks independence, demonstrated by its failure to investigate and report on politically motivated human rights violations, and therefore cannot be a substitute for the CoI, despite its renewed A status. Therefore, an independent mechanism or team that is also mandated to conduct substantive work on justice and accountability remains essential. In addition to documenting violations and identifying all those suspected of criminal responsibility, its work should also include recommendations on ending impunity.
    The CoI, which is due to present a written report to the Council at its upcoming 48th session, continues to provide critical oversight of the human rights situation in Burundi. Like its predecessor, the UN Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB), it has documented gross, widespread and systematic human rights violations and abuses. The thoroughness and visibility of its work has put those suspected of criminal responsibility on notice that their conduct is being monitored and documented. 
     
    Concrete and long-term improvements in the human rights situation in Burundi will not come as a result of the Council relaxing its scrutiny. Rather, continued international scrutiny and substantive work towards justice and accountability constitutes the best chance to achieve meaningful change in the country.
     
    At its 48th session, the Council should avoid sending the Burundian Government signals that would disincentivise domestic human rights reforms. The Council should ensure continued documentation, monitoring, public reporting, and public debates on Burundi’s human rights situation, with a focus on justice and accountability. It should urge the Burundian authorities to make concrete commitments to implement human rights reforms within a clear time-frame, which should be measured against specific benchmarks.
     
    We thank you for your attention to these pressing issues and stand ready to provide your delegation with further information as required.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    1. Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture – Burundi (ACAT-Burundi)
    2. African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)
    3. AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network)
    4. Amnesty International
    5. Article 20 Network
    6. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    7. Association Burundaise pour la Protection des Droits Humains et des Personnes Détenues (APRODH)
    8. Association des Journalistes Burundais en Exil (AJBE)
    9. The Burundi Human Rights Initiative (BHRI)
    10. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
    11. Center for Constitutional Governance (CCG)
    12. Centre for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR-Centre)
    13. CIVICUS
    14. Civil Society Coalition for Monitoring the Elections (COSOME)
    15. Coalition Burundaise pour la Cour Pénale Internationale (CB-CPI)
    16. Collectif des Avocats pour la Défense des Victimes de Crimes de Droit International Commis au Burundi (CAVIB)
    17. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    18. Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR)
    19. Ethiopian Human Rights Defenders Center
    20. European Network for Central Africa (EurAc)
    21. Forum pour la Conscience et le Développement (FOCODE)
    22. Geneva for Human Rights / Genève pour les Droits de l’Homme
    23. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P)
    24. Human Rights Watch
    25. INAMAHORO Movement, Women and Girls for Peace and Security
    26. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
    27. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
    28. International Federation of ACAT (FIACAT)
    29. International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
    30. Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
    31. Light For All
    32. Ligue Iteka
    33. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Burundi (CBDDH)
    34. Observatoire de la Lutte contre la Corruption et les Malversations Économiques (OLUCOME)
    35. Odhikar
    36. Organisation pour la Transparence et la Gouvernance (OTRAG)
    37. Protection International Africa
    38. Reporters Without Borders
    39. Réseau des Citoyens Probes (RCP)
    40. SOS-Torture/Burundi
    41. Tournons La Page
    42. TRIAL International
    43. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
     
    Civic space in Burundi is rated as closed by the CIVICUS Monitor
     

    1 In its latest oral briefing to the Council, assessing the human rights situation against specific action points identified in their September 2020 report, the CoI concluded that “the current situation in Burundi is too complex and uncertain to be referred to as genuine improvement” (Oral briefing of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, Human Rights Council 46th session, 11 March 2021, available here
    2 See the 2020 civil society letter, available at: DefendDefenders et al., “Burundi: Vital role of the Commission of Inquiry in prompting meaningful human rights progress,” 20 August 2020 (accessed on 22 July 2021). The latest CoI report is available here
    3 The African Union (AU) human rights observers were never fully deployed and faced a number of serious limitations to their work. Their mission ended on 31 May 2021. Burundi never cooperated with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) to implement its resolutions.

     

  • Burundi: Widespread human rights abuses persist

    Statement at the 44th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Interactive Dialogue with the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi

     


    Thank you, Madame President;

    CIVICUS and independent Burundian civil society organisations welcome the important work of the Commission of Inquiry, and thank the Commission for its update, noting the continued refusal of the government of Burundi to grant access to the country. 

    We congratulate Burundi on its elections, and the new President Évariste Ndayishimiye, and the new opportunities this presents for engagement. However, the electoral processes were characterised by shrinking democratic space and violations of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Internet shutdowns and social media blockages undermined access to information. We are also deeply disappointed with the appointment of individuals under international sanctions for gross human rights violations to key government positions, including the Prime Minister and Ministry of Home Affairs. 

    We are seriously concerned that members of the ruling party’s youth league, the Imbonerakure, often with local officials, the national intelligence service, and police, continue to carry out widespread human rights abuses including murders, arbitrary arrests, extortion, beatings, and intimidation, often targeting political opponents and their families. Independent civil society and media have been banned, forced to close down, or otherwise prevented from criticising the government. Journalists investigating security or human rights issues face intimidation, surveillance, and prosecution, while media outlets face bans, suspensions, and unduly restrictive regulations that stifle independent reporting.

    On 5 June, the court rejected an appeal by journalists Christine Kamikazi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Égide Harerimana and Térence Mpozenzi of the Iwacu media group, who were arbitrarily arrested while investigating rebel activities in October 2019. They continue their sentence of two and half years in prison. 

    We call on the new government of Burundi to fully cooperate with and grant access to the UN Commission of Inquiry. We also call on the government to unconditionally release all politically motivated detentions including of activists and human rights defenders. 

    We ask the Commission to engage with the new President on crimes perpetrated during the last presidency to ensure truth and justice for victims; and whether the Commission identifies opportunities in light of the new presidency, for renewed engagement with the government for the implementation of its past recommendations and the improvement of human rights in the country. 


    Civic space in Burundi is currently rated as Closed by the CIVICUS Monitor

    Current council members:

    Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Libya, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Slovakia, SomaliaSudan, Spain, Togo, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela

    Civic space ratings from the CIVICUS Monitor

    OPEN NARROWED OBSTRUCTED  REPRESSED CLOSED

     

     

  • Burundians kept in the dark ahead of controversial referendum

    By David Kode 

    Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has intensified his brutal campaign to stay in power by stifling international news reporting of his government’s repressive actions, events ahead of his controversial referendum to extend presidential term limits.

    Read on: Pambazuka 

     

     

  • CIVICUS Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Submissions on Civil Society Space

    CIVICUS and its partners have submitted joint and stand-alone UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on 5 countries in advance of the 29th UPR session in January 2018. The submissions examine the state of civil society in each country, including the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression and the environment for human rights defenders. We further provide an assessment of the States’ domestic implementation of civic space recommendations received during the 2nd UPR cycle over 4 years ago and provide a number of targeted follow-up recommendations.  

    Countries Examined: Burundi, France, Israel, Serbia, and the UAE 

    Burundi: CIVICUS, APRODH, LigueITEKA, DefendDefenders and FIDH examine the failure of the Government of Burundi to implement the vast majority of recommendations it accepted and noted during Burundi’s previous UPR cycle. In the submission, we highlight the restrictions on fundamental freedoms, the targeting of human rights defenders and Burundi’s refusal to cooperate with international human rights institutions and mechanisms. We further examine the high levels of impunity enjoyed by government officials, members of the security forces and the armed wing of the ruling CNDD-FDD party, the Imbonerakure. 

    France: While France has faced serious terrorist threats since its last UPR review, measures taken to protect the public from attacks have had negative consequences for the exercise of the fundamental freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression. In its submission to Frances third UPR review, CIVICUS outlines a series of concerns related to France’s decision to repeatedly extend its state of emergency, which has expanded powers of arrest, detention and surveillance of security forces without adequate judicial oversight and without due regard for the proportionality of measures taken to restrict fundamental freedoms. 

    Israel: CIVICUS, PNGO and ANND raise concern over ongoing violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory since Israel’s previous UPR examination. Worryingly, the authorities continue to subvert the right to freedom of expression through the criminalization of dissent online. Human rights defenders and peaceful protesters also routinely face arbitrary arrest and are held in administrative detention to suppress their legitimate work.

    Serbia: CIVICUS, the Human Rights House Belgrade (Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, Civic Initiatives, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights) and Human Rights House Foundation document the continued intimidation, attacks and harassment of human rights defenders and journalists who report on sensitive issues, such as transitional justice, corruption or government accountability. Additionally, we assess how vilification of and smear campaigns against human right defenders, CSOs, and independent media outlets is undermining the work of civil society.

    United Arab Emirates: In its joint UPR submission, CIVICUS, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights and the International Service for Human Rights examine the continued suppression of fundamental democratic freedoms in the United Arab Emirates. This report explores the ongoing systematic campaign to persecute human rights defenders through arbitrary arrests, torture, deportation and the continued use of draconian legislation to restrict freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

     

  • Civil society facing reprisals for engagement in UN human rights mechanisms

    Statement at the 45th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

     

     


    Acts of reprisal pose a threat to the functioning of UN human rights mechanisms as a whole. Civil society engagement is fundamentally necessary to ensure adequate reporting to these mechanisms and to promote human rights, in and outside the UN. Reprisals lead to self-censorship, weakened engagement and watered-down reporting, and represent an attack against UN mechanisms themselves.

    This week, the Amnesty International India section was forced to stop its ongoing work and let go of its staff after a complete freezing of the organisation’s bank account. India is a member of this Council, and it is particularly egregious that the country has effectively shuttered a critical voice in researching and reporting human rights violations to UN mechanisms.

    We are also alarmed that in China, one of the most prolific perpetrators of reprisals, human rights defenders, activists and lawyers reported that they had been targeted for engaging with the United Nations staff or human rights mechanisms. In September 2018, the Permanent Mission of Burundi in Geneva requested that OHCHR withdrew the accreditation of various human rights defenders. In Cambodia, attacks by the government against prominent rights group LICADHO, STT and Mother Nature, among others, risks impeding them from their vital monitoring and reporting work and severely restricts the ability of defenders to engage with human rights mechanisms at a critical time when Cambodia's human rights are in freefall.

    We urge Member States to not only refrain from such acts of intimidation and reprisals, but to address them. It is past time to impose a real political cost for the deliberate weakening of our human rights mechanisms.

     

  • CM Feed Test 1

    Human rights defender Cyriaque Nibitegeka speaks to CIVICUS about Burundi’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court and the implications for human rights and victims of human rights abuses. Nibitegeka is one of the leaders of civil society in Burundi. He is also a lawyer and member of the Burundi Bar. He was a professor at the Law Faculty of the University of Burundi before being dismissed for his human rights activities.

     

  • El acoso alcanza lo virtual: mujeres activistas y periodistas denuncian su situación

    Journalists theBridge series

    Periodistas, feministas, activistas y defensoras de los derechos humanos de todo el mundo se enfrentan al acoso virtual. En esta serie, la alianza global de la sociedad civil CIVICUS pone de relieve cómo el acoso virtual tiene un marcado componente de género, a través de los relatos de mujeres que trabajan para defender nuestras libertades democráticas. Estos testimonios se publican con carácter original en Global Voices gracias a una colaboración entre CIVICUS y Global Voices.

    Inday Espina VaronaPara esta periodista filipina, cada día es una lucha contra el miedo

    La represión contra medios y periodistas independientes también ha sido implacable. Los ataques y amenazas a periodistas, el empleo de ejércitos de troles y bots virtuales, especialmente durante la pandemia de COVID-19, han contribuido a la autocensura, con el consiguiente efecto disuasorio en el mundo de la comunicación y el público en general.En esta primera parte de la serie, la periodista filipina Inday Espina-Varona cuenta su historia.

     
    Evgenija CarlPeriodista eslovena, a quien el primer ministro llamó prostituta, cuenta su historia

    Evgenija Carl es una periodista de investigación de Eslovenia. Tras realizar un reportaje televisivo sobre el partido de oposición SDS en 2016, Janez Janša, uno de los principales políticos de aquel entonces, la llamó “prostituta” en Twitter. El acoso en línea se intensificó luego, cuando Janša se convirtió en primer ministro esloveno. Lea la historia de Evgenija Carl aquí.

     

    Maya El AmmarAmenazas de violación en línea conectan activista libanesa con miles de otras mujeres que enfrentan maltrato

    Desde octubre de 2019, protestas antigubernamentales conocidas como la “Revolución de Octubre” surgieron en todo el Líbano. Los manifestantes piden la destitución del Gobierno y plantean su preocupación por la corrupción, servicios públicos deficientes y falta de confianza en la clase gobernante. Las protestas han recibido violencia sin precedentes de las fuerzas de seguridad. El país ha enfrentado una crisis política, que empeoró por la explosión del puerto de Beirut en agosto de 2020. Las feministas han estado al frente a la revolución y se ofrecieron para dar asistencia tras la explosión. En la tercera parte de esta serie, Maya El Ammar, escritora, activista, y profesional de comunicaciones feminista, cuenta su historia y el abuso en línea que sigue enfrentando.

    Chantal MutamurizaAtaques personales persiguen a defensora de derechos humanos de Burundi exiliada en Uganda

    Durante el régimen del sucesor de Nkurunziza, el presidente Évariste Ndayishimiye, periodistas y defensores de derechos humanos siguen enfrentando dificultades. El arresto de activistas políticos y el reciente anuncio público de la sentencia a cadena perpetua de 34 exiliados —que incluyen periodistas y defensores de derechos humanos— acusados de intento de golpe contra el expresidente ilustran los obstáculos a la libre expresión en el país. Chantal Mutamuriza, feminista, defensora de los derechos humanos y fundadora de la ONG Light For All (Luz para todos), nos cuenta su historia del continuo acoso en línea que enfrenta.

     

  • Faire partie de CIVICUS nous a permis de défendre les droits des prisonniers au Burundi

    English | Spanish  

    A l’occasion des25 ans de CIVICUS, SABUSHIMIKE Mamert, Président del'Association des Amis de la Nature (AAN) et chargé de la communication et du plaidoyer au sein de la Coalition du Burundi pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, exprime comment faire partie de CIVICUS -l’Alliance Mondiale pour la participation des citoyens – a permis à son association d’avoir un impact pour l’amélioration des conditions des prisonniers au Burundi et le respect de leurs droits. @mamertsabushim   

    Faire partie de l’Alliance Mondiale pour la participation des citoyens (CIVICUS) est une innovation importante et une très bonne chose pour moi, pour les membres de mon organisation : Association des Amis de la Nature et pour certains prisonniers du Burundi.

    J’ai reçu de nouvelles connaissances en plaidoyer grâce à CIVICUS, qui ont été à la base de l’amélioration des conditions de vie, d’hygiène et d’assainissement des prisonniers du Burundi, particulièrement dans la principale prison du pays MPIMBA qui enfermait 3664 détenus en janvier 2018 avec une capacité d’accueil de 800 détenus.

     

  • Harassment goes virtual: Women activists and journalists speak out


    Harassment goes virtual series

     

    Women journalists, feminists, activists, and human rights defenders around the world are facing virtual harassment. In this series, global civil society alliance CIVICUS highlights the gendered nature of virtual harassment through the stories of women working to defend our democratic freedoms. These testimonies are originally published onGlobal Voices through a partnership between CIVICUS and Global Voices.

     

    Inday Espina VaronaFor this Filipina journalist, every day is a battle with fear

    There has been a relentless crackdown against independent media and journalists. Threats and attacks against journalists, as well as the deployment of armies of trolls and online bots, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, have contributed to self-censorship—this has had a chilling effect within the media industry and among the wider public. In this first part of the series, Filipina journalist Inday Espina-Varona tells her story.

     
    Evgenija CarlCalled a prostitute by the prime minister, a Slovenian journalist tells her story (Ler em portugues)

    Evgenija Carl is an investigative journalist from Slovenia. After she produced a television report about the opposition SDS party in 2016, a leading politician at the time, Janez Janša, called her a “prostitute” on Twitter. When Janša later became Slovenian prime minister, the online abuse intensified. Read Evgenija Carl's story here.

     

     

    Maya El AmmarOnline rape threats connect Lebanese activist to ‘thousands of other women’ facing abuse (باللغة العربية)

    Since October 2019, anti-government protests known as the “October Revolution” have erupted across Lebanon. Protesters have called for the removal of the government and raised concerns about corruption, poor public services, and a lack of trust in the ruling class. Protests have been met with unprecedented violence from security forces. Feminists have been at the forefront of the revolution and have stepped up to provide assistance in the aftermath of the explosion. In the third part of this series,Maya El Ammar, a Lebanese feminist writer, activist and communications professional, tells herstory and the online abuse she continues to face. 

     

    Chantal MutamurizaPersonal attacks follow Burundi human rights defender into exile in Uganda (Lire en français)

    Under the regime of President Évariste Ndayishimiye, journalists and rights defenders continue to face challenges. The arrest of political activists and the recent public announcement of the sentencing of 34 exiled people—including journalists and human rights defenders—to life imprisonment illustrate the obstacles to free expression in the country. Chantal Mutamuriza, a feminist, human rights defender, and founder of the Light For All NGO, tells us her story of the continuous online harassment she faces day in and day out.

     

    Weaam YoussefIntimidation, censorship, and defamation in the virtual sphere

    In Syria, hundreds of thousands of people have died since 2011. Numerous human rights violations have taken place during the Syrian crisis - arbitrary detentions, torture, assassination of journalists, and the violent repression of protests, make Syria one of the most volatile countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Originally from Syria, Weaam Youssef is Programme Manager for Women Human Rights Defenders for the Gulf Region and Neighboring Countries. This is the story of Weaam.

     

    Lindsey Kukunda GV 768x786Herself a victim of cyberbullying, Lindsey Kukunda fights online violence against women in Uganda

    More than half of Ugandan women experience physical violence, while one in five is subjected to sexual violence; many also face psychological abuse, forced and early marriage, and female genital mutilation. In 2014, Uganda introduced a law against pornography that has been used to target and prosecute women, especially women whose nude photos have been shared online without their consent. Lindsey Kukunda is a feminist, writer, and human rights defender. She is also the managing director of Her Empire, a feminist organization that runs two programmes: Not Your Body and The Mentor’s Network. Lindsey tells us her story

     

     

  • Joint Letter: Continued human rights monitoring needed in Burundi

    To Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, Geneva, Switzerland 

    Burundi: Vital role of the Commission of Inquiry in prompting meaningful human rights progress

    Excellencies, 

    Ahead of the 45thsession of the UN Human Rights Council (hereafter “HRC” or “the Council”), we, the undersigned national, regional and international civil society organisations, write to urge your delegation to support the renewal of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Burundi. In the context of recent political developments, such a renewal, building off the investments to date in and from the CoI, would provide the best opportunity to prompt meaningful human rights progress in Burundi. 

    As of today, the CoI remains the only independent mechanism mandated to document human rights violations and abuses (including on their extent and whether they may constitute crimes under international law), monitor, and publicly report on the situation in Burundi, with sufficient resources and experience to do so. Changing political realities do not amount to systemic human rights change, and the Council has a responsibility to continue supporting victims and survivors of violations and working to improve the situation in Burundi. 

    In the past, an Independent Expert or other experts mandated to report on the human rights situation in Burundi have not been able to publish information with the same level of detail as the CoI, which has extensive contacts in the country and a team of dedicated, experienced investigators. This is even more crucial now because of the Burundian Government’s intransigence, the absence of a UN human rights team in the country, and lack of access to the Burundian territory. 

    The work conducted by the CoI, which is due to present its written report to the Council at its upcoming 45th session (14 September-6 October 2020), continues to provide critical oversight of the human rights situation in Burundi. The country’s crisis was triggered by former President Pierre Nkurunziza’s announcement, in April 2015, that he would run for a third term in office. Throughout the years, the CoI and its predecessor, the UN Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB), have documented gross, widespread and systematic human rights violations and abuses, some of which may amount to crimes against humanity. 

    The Government, state security forces, including the police, the National Intelligence Service (Service national de renseignement, or SNR), and members of the youth league of the ruling Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces de défense de la démocratie(CNDD-FDD) party, the Imbonerakure, are responsible for many of the violations and abuses. Over the course of its reporting, the CoI has documented violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in a deteriorating economic and humanitarian context. Violations and abuses include arbitrary arrests and detentions of prisoners of conscience and those perceived to be against the Government, beatings, destruction of property, including of premises of the Congrès National pour la Liberté (CNL) party, theft of property belonging to members of opposition parties and human rights defenders (HRDs) in exile, and arbitrary suspension and forced closure of civil society organisations and media outlets. They also include torture and ill-treatment, the use of excessive and lethal force against peaceful demonstrators, enforced disappearances, violations of the rights of women and girls, rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence, forced labour, the extortion of contributions for state-led projects, hate speech and incitement to ethnic hatred (which go on with the acquiescence of political, prosecutorial, and judicial authorities), and extrajudicial killings. 

    Such violations and abuses have continued to take place in a context of near-complete impunity; to date, no high-level officials have been held accountable. Several hundred prisoners who have served their term or whose release has been ordered continue to be arbitrarily detained. This situation is ongoing despite opinions rendered by the UN Working Group on arbitrary detention (WGAD), which examined some of these prisoners’ cases. Victims and survivors of sexual violence have been denied access to a specialised framework for medical and psychological treatment and full rehabilitation. Additionally, in recent months, there has been an increase in ethnic hate speech, including by individuals close to the Government, with a view to de-humanising parts of the population (i.e., the Tutsi). 

    Members and supporters of opposition political parties, in particular the CNL, as well as independent voices, including civil society members, HRDs, members of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and journalists, have been targeted. Since April 2015, the civic and democratic space has continued to shrink. At the time of writing, despite calls on the new President, Évariste Ndayishimiye, to demonstrate his openness to reconciliation by releasing all detained HRDs, Germain Rukuki, Nestor Nibitanga, and Iwacu reporters Egide Harerimana, Christine Kamikazi, Terence Mpozenzi and Agnès Ndirubusa, remain in detention. 

    The Burundian Government ceased its cooperation with the Council’s mechanisms, including in 2016 by declaring members of the UNIIB personæ non gratæand in February 2019 by forcing the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to leave the country. Despite being a member of the Council (2016-2018), Burundi refused to implement Council resolutions, including HRC resolution 36/2, which was adopted at Burundi’s request and with the sponsorship of the African Group. Burundian officials have also repeatedly insulted and threatened members of the CoI and carried out reprisals against exiled HRDs, including lawyers and activists who sought to engage with the UN human rights system. The Government has extended sub-standard cooperation to regional mechanisms. African Union (AU) observers, who have not been fully deployed, continue to face a number of limitations to their work. Unlike the CoI, their findings are not made public. Burundi has disregarded resolutions adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), including Resolution 412 (LXIII) 2018, which urged the Government to “[c]onduct prompt independent, impartial and effective investigations” into human rights violations and “[c]ooperate with all international community stakeholders, including the African Union, the United Nations and the East African Community, in the search for a peaceful and human rights responsive solution to the crisis.” 

    Relying on independent, thorough and professional documentation methodologies, without access to country’s territory, the CoI has continued to expose violations. In 2019, in accordance with principles of early warning and prevention and using the Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes developed by the UN’s Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, the CoI identified risk factors and indicators of violations. While some of the factors the Commission identified are related to specific circumstances, such as elections, a number of other factors are structural. This means that, beyond the appointment of new officials, systemic changes and meaningful reforms are necessary to bring about sustainable improvements in the situation and deliver effective guarantees for the rights of Burundian citizens.   

    Burundi is in a period of potential transition, following the 20 May 2020 presidential, legislative and local elections resulting in the election of a new President, Évariste Ndayishimiye and after the passing of former President Nkurunziza. At this moment and in this context, there are signs of promise as well as of significant concern. 

    Despite promising remarks by President Ndayishimiye during his inauguration, as well as the authorities’ new, more transparent approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, observers also raised concerns, notably over the fact that several newly appointed members of the Ndayishimiye administration are subject to international individual sanctions for their alleged responsibility in human rights violations. Nonetheless, the political transition represents an opportunity to open a new chapter for the Burundian people and for Burundi’s relationship with the UN human rights system. 

    Although the May 2020 elections and their immediate aftermath were not characterised by mass violence, concerns and warning signs remain. Widespread intimidation and patterns of violations against opposition members and supporters, as well as the arrest of hundreds of CNL supporters, have contributed to an ongoing climate of fear. As the CoI reported in its 14 July update to the Council, “[h]uman rights violations continue to date and it would be premature to make any pronouncements on the possible evolution of the situation under the new government.” 

    In its 14 July address, the CoI identified some “priority areas for action against which the new authorities can objectively attest their desire for change and normalisation on the long term […].” These areas for action include: 

    • The fight against poverty and economic instability (risk factor no. 1).
    • The fight against the de facto impunity enjoyed by the main perpetrators of violations (risk factor no. 2) and the reform of the judicial system (risk factor no. 3). In our view, this would include: 
      • The removal of officials who have been credibly implicated in serious human rights violations and possible atrocity crimes while thorough and impartial investigations are conducted. Where there is sufficient admissible evidence, those suspected of criminal responsibility should be prosecuted in fair trials, irrespective of their rank, status, or political affiliation. Victims and survivors and their families should be able to access justice, truth and reparation; 
      • Comprehensive reforms of police and security forces, including bringing human rights violations committed by the National Defence Force, law enforcement bodies, the SNR and the Imbonerakure to an end, and ensuring that the ruling party’s youth league is disarmed and not used for any official state security or other duties. Military, security and law enforcement forces should undergo a thorough vetting process, with regional or international assistance, to remove individuals who have taken part in human rights violations. 
    • The re-opening of the democratic space (risk factor no. 4). In our view, this would include: 
      • Establishment and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment for HRDs, members of civil society, journalists, and opposition members and supporters. A safe and enabling civic space includes releasing all prisoners of conscience, including detained HRDs and journalists; an end to political interference in the judicial system; full protection of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and the reinstatement of and full respect for the rights of arbitrarily banned civil society organisations and media outlets;
      • Measurable progress should also be recorded to allow for the safe, voluntary and dignified return of more than 300,000 refugees, including political refugees who were forced to flee the country to avoid harassment. 
    • The cooperation with the Commission of Inquiry. More generally, we urge:  
      • Full cooperation with international and African human rights bodies and mechanisms, including cooperation with the CoI (which means granting it access the country), resumed cooperation with OHCHR, and finalisation of a memorandum of understanding with the AU’s human rights observer mission. Regional and international NGOs should also be able to access the country and operate without interference. Burundi should promptly re-accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and cooperate fully with the Court.

    We would welcome meaningful and concrete improvements in the human rights situation in Burundi, and we believe that the best chance to achieve such meaningful change is through the renewal of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry, as well as the Burundian authorities reinitiating dialogue with the CoI, OHCHR, and other UN and AU human rights bodies and mechanisms. Through such engagement, the Burundian authorities could help chart a clear and unwavering path from the current context of grave violations and widespread impunity by making measurable progress on key indicators such as those referenced above.  

    At its 45th session, the Council should avoid sending the Government of Burundi signals that would disincentivise domestic human rights reforms, such as terminating the CoI’s mandate in the absence of measurable progress. It should avoid a scenario where re-establishing the CoI’s mandate would be necessary after a premature discontinuation, because of a renewed escalation of human rights violations and abuses. The Council should rather ensure continued investigations, monitoring, public reporting, and public debates on Burundi’s human rights situation. 

    We thank you for your attention to these pressing issues and stand ready to provide your delegation with further information as required. 

    Sincerely, 

    1. Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture – Burundi (ACAT-Burundi)
    2. African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) 
    3. African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) 
    4. AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network)
    5. Amnesty International 
    6. ARTICLE 19
    7. Association Burundaise pour la Protection des Droits Humains et des Personnes Détenues (APRODH)
    8. Association des Journalistes Burundais en Exil (AJBE) 
    9. The Burundi Human Rights Initiative (BHRI) 
    10. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) 
    11. Centre for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR-Centre)
    12. CIVICUS 
    13. Civil Society Coalition for Monitoring the Elections (COSOME)
    14. Coalition Burundaise pour la Cour Pénale Internationale (CB-CPI)
    15. Collectif des Avocats pour la Défense des Victimes de Crimes de Droit International Commis au Burundi (CAVIB)
    16. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    17. Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR) 
    18. European Network for Central Africa (EurAc) 
    19. Front Line Defenders
    20. Geneva for Human Rights / Genève pour les Droits de l’Homme
    21. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P)
    22. Human Rights Watch 
    23. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) 
    24. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
    25. International Federation of ACAT (FIACAT)
    26. International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) 
    27. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    28. Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada 
    29. Light For All 
    30. Ligue Iteka
    31. Mouvement des Femmes et des Filles pour la Paix et la Sécurité (MFFPS)
    32. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Burundi (CBDDH)  
    33. Central African Network of Human Rights Defenders (REDHAC) 
    34. Observatoire de la Lutte contre la Corruption et les Malversations Économiques (OLUCOME) 
    35. Odhikar 
    36. Organisation pour la Transparence et la Gouvernance (OTRAG) 
    37. Réseau des Citoyens Probes (RCP)
    38. SOS-Torture/Burundi
    39. Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) 
    40. TRIAL International
    41. Union Burundaise des Journalistes (UBJ)
    42. West African Human Rights Defenders Network (ROADDH/WAHRDN) 
    43. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) 

     

  • Joint Statement on human rights violations in Burundi

    UN Human Rights Council: 36th Session

    Oral Intervention at Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi

    Thank you, Mr. President.  CIVICUS and DefendDefenders on behalf of 30 African organisations would like to thank the CoI for their report and reiterate their concerns that there are reasons to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed with impunity by state perpetrators including the National Intelligence Service, National Police, the Burundian Amy and the Imbonerakure in Burundi since the outset of the crisis in April 2015.

    The killings, abductions, mass disappearances, torture and detentions of citizens have created a climate of fear and intimidation firmly entrenched in all sectors of Burundian society. A civil society law passed in January 2017 gives the authorities broad powers to control the activities and resources of civil society organisations. Almost all human rights defenders and journalists are in exile and still live in fear. The government has issued international warrants against some of them.

    Most of the private radio stations remain closed, and while most journalists and HRDs are in exile, some of those who remained, such as Jean Bigirimana and Germain Rukuki, are still missing or detained.

    Mr. President in a context like Burundi’s where the judiciary is not independent and all voices critical of the government are brutally attacked, there are no avenues present to hold perpetrators of crimes against humanity accountable.

    Mr. President, we call on the Council to:

    1. Renew the mandate of the COI
    2. Urge the International Criminal Court to open an official investigation into human rights violations in Burundi
    3. Initiate action for Burundi’s suspension from the UN HRC

    Thank you Mr. President

    Sincerely,

    1. Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture - Burundi (ACAT-Burundi)
    2. African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), The Gambia
    3. Association pour la Protection des Droits Humains et des Personnes Détenues (APRODH), Burundi
    4. Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE), Ethiopia
    5. CIVICUS
    6. Coalition Burundaise pour la Cour Pénale Internationale (CB-CPI)
    7. Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation, South Sudan (CEPO)
    8. DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    9. Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea, Eritrea
    10. ONG Ezaka ho Fampandrosoana any Ambanivohitra (ONG EFA), Madagascar
    11. Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR), Eritrea
    12. Forum pour la Conscience et le Développement (FOCODE), Burundi
    13. Forum pour le Renforcement de la Société Civile au Burundi (FORSC), Burundi
    14. Human Rights Concern - Eritrea  (HRCE)
    15. Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA), South Africa
    16. International Youth For Africa, South Sudan
    17. La Nouvelle Société Civile Congolaise, DRC
    18. Ligue Iteka, Burundi
    19. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Uganda
    20. Réseau des Citoyens Probes, Burundi
    21. Réseau des Droits de l’Homme d’Afrique Centrale (REDHAC)
    22. SOS-Torture, Burundi
    23. South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network, South Sudan
    24. Union Burundaise des Journalistes, Burundi
    25. Zambia Council for Social Development, Zambia
    26. Mauritius Council of Social Services, Mauritius
    27. Pan Africa Human Rights Defenders Network
    28. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition
    29. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya
    30. Mouvement des Femmes et des Filles pour la Paix et la Sécurité

     

  • Joint statement on human rights violations in Burundi

    UN Human Rights Council: 36th Session
    Oral Intervention at Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi

    Thank you, Mr. President.  CIVICUS and DefendDefenders on behalf of 30 African organisations would like to thank the CoI for their report and reiterate their concerns that there are reasons to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed with impunity by state perpetrators including the National Intelligence Service, National Police, the Burundian Amy and the Imbonerakure in Burundi since the outset of the crisis in April 2015.

    The killings, abductions, mass disappearances, torture and detentions of citizens have created a climate of fear and intimidation firmly entrenched in all sectors of Burundian society. A civil society law passed in January 2017 gives the authorities broad powers to control the activities and resources of civil society organisations. Almost all human rights defenders and journalists are in exile and still live in fear. The government has issued international warrants against some of them.

    Most of the private radio stations remain closed, and while most journalists and HRDs are in exile, some of those who remained, such as Jean Bigirimana and Germain Rukuki, are still missing or detained.

    Mr. President in a context like Burundi’s where the judiciary is not independent and all voices critical of the government are brutally attacked, there are no avenues present to hold perpetrators of crimes against humanity accountable.

    Mr. President, we call on the Council to:

    1. Renew the mandate of the COI
    2. Urge the International Criminal Court to open an official investigation into human rights violations in Burundi
    3. Initiate action for Burundi’s suspension from the UN HRC

    Thank you Mr. President

    Sincerely,

    1. Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture - Burundi (ACAT-Burundi)
    2. African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), The Gambia
    3. Association pour la Protection des Droits Humains et des Personnes Détenues (APRODH), Burundi
    4. Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE), Ethiopia
    5. CIVICUS
    6. Coalition Burundaise pour la Cour Pénale Internationale (CB-CPI)
    7. Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation, South Sudan (CEPO)
    8. DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    9. Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea, Eritrea
    10. ONG Ezaka ho Fampandrosoana any Ambanivohitra (ONG EFA), Madagascar
    11. Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR), Eritrea
    12. Forum pour la Conscience et le Développement (FOCODE), Burundi
    13. Forum pour le Renforcement de la Société Civile au Burundi (FORSC), Burundi
    14. Human Rights Concern - Eritrea  (HRCE)
    15. Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA), South Africa
    16. International Youth For Africa, South Sudan
    17. La Nouvelle Société Civile Congolaise, DRC
    18. Ligue Iteka, Burundi
    19. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Uganda
    20. Réseau des Citoyens Probes, Burundi
    21. Réseau des Droits de l’Homme d’Afrique Centrale (REDHAC)
    22. SOS-Torture, Burundi
    23. South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network, South Sudan
    24. Union Burundaise des Journalistes, Burundi
    25. Zambia Council for Social Development, Zambia
    26. Mauritius Council of Social Services, Mauritius
    27. Pan Africa Human Rights Defenders Network
    28. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition
    29. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya
    30. Mouvement des Femmes et des Filles pour la Paix et la Sécurité

     

  • Outcomes & Reflections from 39th Session of UN Human Rights Council

    This session, the Council adopted landmark resolutions on several country situations, further enhancing its contribution to the protection of human rights. 

    On Myanmar, we welcome the creation of the independent investigative mechanism, which is an important step towards accountability for the horrific crimes committed in Myanmar, as elaborated in the Fact Finding Mission’s report to this session. The overwhelming support for the resolution, notwithstanding China’s shameful blocking of consensus, was a clear message to victims and survivors that the international community stands with them in their fight for justice. 

    On Yemen, the Council demonstrated that principled action is possible, and has sent a strong message to victims of human rights violations in Yemen that accountability is a priority for the international community, by voting in favor of renewing the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts to continue international investigations into violations committed by all parties to the conflict. 

    Furthermore, we welcome the leadership by a group of States on the landmark resolution on Venezuela, and consider it as an important step for the Council applying objective criteria to address country situations that warrant its attention. The resolution, adopted with support from all regions, sends a strong message of support to the Venezuelan people. By opening up a space for dialogue at the Council, the resolution brings scrutiny to the tragic human rights and humanitarian crisis unfolding in the country.  

    While we welcome the renewal of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Burundi, to continue its critical investigation and work towards accountability, we regret, however, that the Council failed to respond more strongly to Burundi's record of non-cooperation and attacks against the UN human rights system. 

    We also welcome the Council’s adoption of the resolution on Syria, which among other things condemns all violations and abuses of international human rights law and all violations of international humanitarian law committed by all parties to the conflict.

    However, on other country situations including China, Sudan, Cambodia and the Philippines, the Council failed to take appropriate action. 

    On Sudan, we are deeply concerned about the weak resolution that envisions an end to the Independent Expert’s mandate once an OHCHR office is set up; a "deal" Sudan has already indicated it does not feel bound by, and which is an abdication of the Council’s responsibility to human rights victims in Sudan while grave violations are ongoing. At a minimum, States should ensure the planned country office monitors and publicly reports on the human rights situation across Sudan, and that the High Commissioner is mandated to report to the Council on the Office’s findings.  

    We also regret the lack of concerted Council action on the Philippines, in spite of the need to establish independent international and national investigations into extrajudicial killings in the government's 'war on drugs', and to monitor and respond to the government's moves toward authoritarianism. 

    In addition, we regret the Council’s weak response to the deepening human rights and the rule of law crisis in Cambodia, failing to change its approach even when faced with clear findings by the Special Rapporteur demonstrating that the exclusive focus on technical assistance and capacity building in the country, is failing.

    We share the concerns that many raised during the session, including the High Commissioner, about China’s human rights record, specifically noting serious violations of the rights of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province. It is regrettable that States did not make a concrete and collective call for action by China to cease the internment of estimates ranging up to 1 million individuals from these communities. 

    On thematic resolutions, we welcome the adoption of the resolution on equal participation in political and public affairs but would have preferred a stronger endorsement and implementation of the guidelines.

    The resolution on safety of journalists, adopted by consensus, sets out a clear roadmap of practical actions to end impunity for attacks. Journalism is not a crime - yet too many States in this room simply imprison those that criticize them. This must end, starting with the implementation of this resolution. 

    We welcome the adoption by consensus of the resolution on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights in humanitarian settings. Women and girls affected by conflict have been denied accountability for too long. The implementation of this resolution will ensure that their rights, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights, are respected, protected and fulfilled. 

    Finally, the Council’s first interactive dialogue on acts of reprisals and intimidation was an important step to ensure accountability for this shameful practice, and we urge more States to have the courage and conviction to stand up for human rights defenders and call out countries that attack and intimidate them.

    Signatories:
    The African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS)
    Amnesty International 
    Article 19
    Center for Reproductive Rights
    CIVICUS
    DefendDefenders
    FIDH
    Forum Asia 
    Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF)
    Human Rights Watch 
    International Commission of Jurists
    International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

     

  • Réaction à la résolution sur les droits humains au Burundi

    42ème Session du Conseil de droits de l'homme des Nations Unies
    Réponse à la résolution sur le Burundi

    CIVICUS et ses membres se félicitent du renouvellement de la Commission d'enquête sur le Burundi. C'est un moment crucial pour le pays à l'approche des élections de l'année prochaine, et nous nous félicitons particulièrement de l'attention accrue accordée aux violations des droits dans le contexte des élections.

    Cela permettra au pays de rester sous surveillance internationale pendant la période électorale et contribuera à garantir la responsabilité et la justice pour les violations des droits de l'homme. Le gouvernement burundais n'a toujours pas accordé l'accès à la Commission d'enquête, mais le renouvellement du mandat a montré que l'obstructionnisme, l'indifférence et les menaces faites par le gouvernement burundais contre l'ONU ne seront pas récompensés.

    C'est une période critique pour le Burundi alors que la situation des droits de l'homme ne cesse de se détériorer. Le travail de la Commission d'enquête est plus nécessaire que jamais et nous nous félicitons de son travail en cours ", a déclaré Cyriaque Nibitegeka, avocat et défenseur des droits humains.

    Nous applaudissons les xx États qui ont voté en faveur de la résolution pour leur soutien aux défenseurs des droits humains et à la société civile au Burundi.

    Nous réitérons notre appel au gouvernement burundais pour qu'il coopère pleinement avec les mécanismes du Conseil des droits de l'homme des Nations Unies, y compris la Commission d'enquête, qu'il permette l'accès à ces mécanismes, et qu'il libère sans plus tarder les défenseurs des droits humains détenus. Lisez notre déclaration au Conseil des droits de l'homme ici.

     

  • Reaction to human rights resolution on Burundi

    42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Response to resolution on Burundi

    CIVICUS and members welcome the renewal of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi. It is a crucial time for the country with elections coming up next year, and we particularly welcome the enhanced focus on rights violations in the context of the elections.

    This will ensure that the country remains under international scrutiny over the election period, and will help ensure accountability and justice for human rights violations. The Burundi government has still not granted access to the Commission of Inquiry, but the renewal of the mandate has shown that obstructionism, indifference, and threats made by the Burundi government against the UN will not go rewarded.

    ‘This is a critical time for Burundi as the human rights situation continues to worsen. The work of the Commission of Inquiry is needed now more than ever and we welcome its ongoing work,’ said Cyriaque Nibitegeka, lawyer and human rights defender.

    We applaud the 23 states that voted for the resolution for their support to human rights defenders and wider civil society in Burundi.

    We reiterate calls to the Burundian government to to fully cooperate and allow access to UN Human Rights Council mechanisms, including the Commission of Inquiry, and to release detained human rights defenders as a matter of urgency. Read our statement to the Human Rights Council here.