UN rights experts urge end to violence in Burundi
UN rights experts urge end to violence in Burundi

[JURIST] Three human rights experts of the UN Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB) [official website] on Friday echoed previous calls for a stop to violence [press release] after their second visit Burundi. There has been a considerable drop in the number of executions in Burundi following a warning issued by the UN rights chief. After noting this significant drop, one of the experts, Christof Heyns [official website], was emphatic that “this relative calm [in Burundi] should not be confused with long term stability.” The experts drew attention to the continuing human rights violations,including politically-motivated detentions, disappearances, and torture, stating that “[f]or Burundi to move away from violence and conflict, it needs a truly inclusive political dialogue that will address the roots of the political crisis.” While visiting Burundi, the members of the UNIIB were able to meet with national authorities, victims of human rights violations, and even visited Mpimba prison in Bujumbura. UNNIB was founded by the Human Rights Council in December 2015.

Violence in Burundi began in the wake of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s announcement that he would seek a third term of office, to which he was elected [JURIST report] in July. Last month UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed concern 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 [JURIST report] 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.