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


  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
  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


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