Human Rights Council : 37th session
Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi
DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
Delivered by Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa on 13 March 2018
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Thank you Mme. President.
DefendDefenders and the Association Burundaise pour la Protection des Droits Humains et des Personnes Détenues thank the Commission of Inquiry for their oral update. As a Burundian, I appreciate the tireless work of the Commission in documenting the human rights violations that affect my people.
Mme. President, it will soon be three years since Burundi plunged into a climate of fear and violence. Extra-judicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions of citizens affect all sectors of Burundian society. The media, the judiciary, civil society, and all other voices critical of the government are brutally attacked. Almost all independent human rights defenders and journalists have been forced into exile, where they still live in fear. To this day, Germain Rukuki, Emmanuel Nshimirimana, Aimé Constant Gatore, Marius Nizigama, and Nestor Nibitanga are detained because of their human rights work.
In its first report, the Commission of Inquiry concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed. We reiterate our concern of about these violations, which continue to be perpetrated with impunity. The current context, with a controversial pending constitutional referendum and a complete denial on the part of the government regarding the situation in the country, offers little hope of improvement.
Mme. President, in light of the gross violations committed by the Government of Burundi and its complete and continued refusal to engage with OHCHR mechanisms, we urge the Council to act, maintain its credibility, and urge Burundi to respect its responsibilities as a member state.
Thank you Mme. President