UN rights expert: Burundi violence threat to Great Lakes region

UN rights expert: Burundi violence threat to Great Lakes region

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonović [official profile] expressed concern [press release] Tuesday over the deteriorating human rights situation in Burundi. The violence has come with the emergence of armed groups opposed to the government and has the potential to disrupt the nation and the Great Lakes region in general. In a UN report [text], Šimonović acknowledged the 474 deaths, 36 alleged enforced disappearances and 5,000 detained people as a result of the conflict. For those in political detainment, the assistant secretary-general called for release. Earlier this month, independent experts concluded their latest investigation [materials] in Burundi and found extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, and sexual and gender-based violence against civilians continue to plague the nation.

Violence in Burundi began in the wake of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s announcement that he would seek a third term of office, which he was voted into [JURIST report] in July. Earlier this month UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profiles] also expressed concern [statement] over increased violence and rights violations in Burundi, and called for an “inclusive political dialogue” [JURIST report] to end the 11-year struggle. Speaking to the council about his trip to Burundi last month, the secretary-general stated, “I cannot stress enough the profound humanitarian consequences that political unrest, violence and impunity carry for the population.” In January the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report stating that Burundian authorities barred entry into Burundi to independent rights experts dispatched by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate violations in the nation. Also in January Zeid warned [JURIST report] of increasing violence in Burundi. In December the UN Human Rights Council approved [JURIST report] a resolution to dispatch experts to investigate human rights violations in Burundi, condemning violence in the country, use of excessive force by officials and restrictions on freedoms. In November the UN Security Council unanimously adopted [JURIST report] a resolution condemning the political violence and killings currently afflicting Burundi.