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As representatives of national and international human rights organizations working in Burundi, we urge you to extend the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Burundi. He has been and should continue to be an effective counselor to the Government of Burundi, a firm support to Burundian civil society organizations, and a passionate voice for victims of human rights abuses.

The human rights situation in Burundi remains fragile. Despite progress made by the Government of Burundi in some key areas, such as the relatively successful integration of the police and the armed forces and the recent resumption of peace negotiations with the Palipehutu-FNL, Burundians continue to suffer from human rights abuses. Rape and sexual violence continue to destroy the lives of many Burundian women and children; arbitrary arrests and procedural violations of the rights of detainees are reported every day; and over 100,000 small arms circulate among the civilian population, contributing to widespread insecurity.

Further, no one has been held accountable for the past abuses evoked by the Independent Expert in his August 2008 report, including the Gatumba massacre of 2004 and the Muyinga killings of 2006. Failure to address these abuses contributes to a climate of impunity and growing insecurity.

The government has taken steps toward the establishment of a national independent human rights commission, but the bill establishing the commission has not yet been approved. Even under the best of circumstances, it is highly unlikely that a national independent human rights commission will be functioning effectively before next year at this time. On a similar issue, that of consultations on transitional justice, Burundians have waited years for the implementation of long-agreed plans.

The Independent Expert would be well-placed to support important Burundian initiatives related to transitional justice and to civil and political rights in the context of elections scheduled for 2010. He would be an effective voice advocating for the prompt establishment and independent nature of the proposed national independent human rights commission and the proposed national electoral commission. He would be effective in encouraging the donor support that would be key to the successful functioning of these institutions.

The signatories to this letter who represent Burundian non-governmental organizations also wish to recognize the invaluable assistance of the Independent Expert in amplifying our voice as we work towards strengthening our presence in the international arena.

We strongly urge that the mandate of the Independent Expert be extended, in order to allow him to assist the Government of Burundi in the development of national mechanisms that are sufficiently robust as to safeguard the human rights of Burundians and fortify the rule of law.

We thank you for your attention to this matter.

Bujumbura, September 12, 2008


- Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture (ACAT Burundi)
- Association des Femmes Juristes du Burundi (AFJB)
- Association pour la Protection des droits humains et des personnes détenues (APRODH)
- Human Rights Watch (HRW)
- Ligue Burundaise des Droits de l’Homme ITEKA
- Ligue des Droits de l’Homme dans la Région des Grands Lacs (LDGL)
- Observatoire de l’Action Gouvernementale (OAG)

CC :

- H.E. the President of the Republic of Burundi
- H.E. the First Vice President of the Republic of Burundi
- H.E. the Second Vice President of the Republic of Burundi
- H.E. the President of the National Assembly
- H.E. the President of the Senate
- Minister of National Solidarity, Repatriation, National Reconstruction, Human Rights and Gender
- Minister of Justice and Keeper of Seals
- Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

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