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Burundi: Concerns Over the Continuing Crackdown on Civic Space and Political Opposition

HRW Oral Statement Item 4 - ID with the Special Rapporteur on Burundi - HRC54

The seat of Burundi delegation is pictured before a special session of the Human Rights Council on the situation in Burundi in Geneva, Switzerland, December 17, 2015. © 2015 Reuters

Mr. President,

We share the Special Rapporteur’s concerns over the continued human rights crisis in Burundi, fueled by a climate of impunity.

Human Rights Watch remains deeply concerned by the continuing crackdown on civic space and political opposition. The National Congress for Freedom (Congrès National pour la Liberté, CNL) was suspended in June, and its members have faced relentless intimidation, arbitrary arrests, killings and enforced disappearances.

We urge the authorities to immediately release journalist Floriane Irangabiye, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for simply criticizing the government.

As the Special Rapporteur has highlighted, there is very little recourse to justice for rights abuses at national level, given the lack of independence of the judiciary. The National Human Rights Commission’s reports have lacked independence and credibility.

Burundian authorities demonstrated, yet again, their disregard for the international human rights system, when the delegation stormed out of its review by the Human Rights Committee in July, apparently protesting the presence of a duly accredited human rights defender. This follows a pattern of non-cooperation with UN human rights bodies and mechanisms, including a continued refusal to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur, let alone implement his recommendations.

In light of the lack of progress, persistent impunity, and refusal of the authorities to cooperate with the international human rights system, we urge member states to renew the vital mandate of the Special Rapporteur.

We would like to ask the Special Rapporteur what measures, given the lack of cooperation, could the United Nations and the African Union put in place to protect Burundians’ rights?

Thank you.

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