Geneva, 29 September 2017 (Issued as received) – The Commission of Inquiry on Burundi takes note of the decision of the United Nations Human Rights Council to extend its mandate for one year. The Commission calls on the Burundian government and United Nations Member States to make a firm commitment to fighting impunity and to put an immediate end to the serious human rights violations and abuses committed in Burundi, documented in its recent report.
“The extension of the mandate is not an end in itself. It is crucial that measures are taken immediately to protect human rights in Burundi, to prosecute alleged perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses through credible and fair proceedings and to deliver justice to the victims. The Commission will continue carrying out its mission with rigour and impartiality, respectful of the principles of constructive dialogue and cooperation that guide this Council’s activities”, said Fatsah Ouguergouz, President of the Commission.
The Burundian government has so far refused to cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry, despite the Commission’s repeated requests and initiatives. The Commission would like to believe that the Burundian authorities will now respond to a renewed request for dialogue.
“The Commission remains available and willing to open a dialogue with the Burundian Government. We call on the government, once again, to cooperate with the Commission, to provide it with information on the human rights situation in Burundi and on the government’s efforts in this field,” said Reine Alapini Gansou, a member of the Commission.
Following seven months of investigations and on the basis of more than 500 interviews, including with Burundian refugees abroad and others who have remained in their country, the Commission reached the conclusion that serious human rights violations and abuses have been committed in Burundi since April 2015. The violations the Commission documented include arbitrary arrests and detentions, acts of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, rape and other forms of sexual violence.
“We remain deeply concerned by the persistence of these violations, some of which could constitute crimes against humanity. We also remain concerned about the involvement in these violations of state agents (in particular members of the intelligence services, the police and the army) and Imbonerakure, members of the youth league of the ruling party. There can be no solution to the crisis in Burundi without strict respect for human rights and a firm commitment to fighting impunity”, said Françoise Hampson, a member of the Commission.
The Commission stressed that it is the primary responsibility of the Burundian authorities to put an end to serious human rights violations committed on their territory. It also called on opposition groups to put an immediate end to human rights abuses and to abstain from all incitement to violence. The Commission called on the African Union to retake the lead in seeking a lasting solution to the crisis in Burundi based on respect for human rights and the rejection of impunity.
The Commission of Inquiry on Burundi was created on 30 September 2016 through United Nations Human Rights Council resolution 33/24. Its mandate is to conduct a thorough investigation into human rights violations and abuses committed in Burundi since April 2015, to identify alleged perpetrators and to formulate recommendations.
The report, along with questions and answers and extracts of victims’ testimonies, is available at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/CoIBurundi/Pages/CoIBurundiReportHR...
Media contact (Geneva): Claire Kaplun, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Tel: +41-22 917 9056, email: email@example.com
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