Statement: Countless cases of arbitrary arrests in Burundi

41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi

CIVICUS and independent Burundian civil society organisations thank the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi for its update and ongoing work on highlighting human rights abuses. However, we are seriously concerned that the grave subversion of human rights outlined in its 2018 report have continued and that the government of Burundi continues to refuse to allow the Commission’s staff to conduct their work.

Many civil society activists and independent journalists remain in exile, while those in Burundi continue to face intimidation, detention, or trials on trumped up charges. Human rights defender Germain Rukuki is serving a 32-year jail sentence on spurious charges of “participating in an insurrectionist movement and breaching state security”. Human rights defender Germain Rukuki is serving a 32-year jail sentence on spurious charges of “participating in an insurrectionist movement and breaching state security”. Human rights defender Nestor Nibitanga is also in detention in an unrelated case. Ahead of the general election next year, early warning signs of a worsening situation have already emerged, notably the persecution of all dissident voices and further restrictions on independent media, including reports that the government has already banned international media from covering the next year's elections. This is a worrying precursor of further human rights violations to come.

In the past six months, there have been countless cases of arbitrary arrest and detention. Freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly are routinely curtailed. As the Commission’s previous report observed, the perpetrators of these human rights violations continue to operate in “a climate of impunity perpetuated by the lack of an independent judiciary.” These issues are significantly under reported and deliberately ignored by the government of Burundi, and by shining a light on their occurrence the Commission plays a vital role in addressing the human rights situation in Burundi.

We call on the government of Burundi to cooperate fully with the mandate including granting full access to the country, to re-open the OHCHR office, and to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms including by releasing all detained human rights defenders, and we ask the Commission of Inquiry is there are any indications that these welcome steps may take place ahead of the elections next year. 

1.    Action des chrétiens pour l’abolition de la torture (ACAT Burundi)
2.    Association des Journalistes Burundais en exil 
3.    Association pour la protection des droits humains et des personnes détenues (APRODH)
4.    CIVICUS 
5.    Coalition Burundaise pour la CPI (CB-CPI)
6.    Coalition de la Société Civile pour le Monitoring Electoral (COSOME) 
7.    Collectif des avocats pour la défense des victimes de crimes de droit international commis au Burundi (CAVIB)
8.    Forum pour la Conscience et le Développement (FOCODE)
9.    Forum pour le renforcement de la société civile (FORSC)
10.  Ligue ITEKA
11.  Mouvement des Femmes et des Filles pour la Paix et la Sécurité (MFFPS). 
12.  Réseau des citoyens probes (RCP)
13.  SOS-Torture / Burundi
14.  Union burundaise des journalistes (UBJ)

 

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