Item 4: Amnesty International’s written statement to the 34 th session of the UN Human Rights Council (27 February – 24 March 2017)
In recent months the Government of Burundi has imposed further restrictions on civil society, on top of an already severe clampdown since the beginning of the crisis in April 2015. Amnesty International shares the concerns raised by a group of UN Special Procedures on 6 February in this regard. Many journalists and human rights defenders have been forced to flee the country since the start of the crisis.
For those that remain, their work has become more difficult and dangerous, with increased surveillance having a chilling effect and victims and witnesses of crimes under international law and human rights violations terrified to speak out. The whereabouts of human rights defender Marie-Claudette Kwizera and journalist Jean Bigirimana, who disappeared on 10 December 2015 and 22 July 2016 respectively, are still unknown. Combined with a recent string of repressive measures, including reprisals against human rights lawyers, closure of non-governmental organizations and introduction of new controls on the work of NGOs, the Government of Burundi is creating an environment that is deeply hostile to human rights work.
Amnesty International calls on Burundi to reverse recent repressive measures and stop stifling debate on issues critical to the future of the country, and allow independent experts, including the Human Rights Council (“the Council”) Commission of Inquiry, and civil society, to investigate and make recommendations to end the human rights crisis.