Report of the Secretary-General on Burundi (S/2017/165)


I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to resolution 2303 (2016), in which the Security Council requested me to report to it on the situation in Burundi every three months, including on any public incidents of incitements to hatred and violence, as well as on steps to ensure the deployment of the United Nations police component and on possible adaptations of the United Nations police component as referred to in paragraphs 13 and 14 of the resolution. My Special Adviser briefed the Council on the situation in Burundi on 8 November 2016. The present report covers the period since the adoption of resolution 2303 (2016) on 29 July 2016 and provides details about the status of the implementation of the resolution, as well as the efforts of my Special Adviser and the United Nations system in this regard.

II. Major developments

A. Political developments

2. Nearly two years have passed since the beginning of the political crisis in Burundi, which was sparked by the decision of the ruling party, Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie — Forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD), to support President Pierre Nkurunziza’s candidacy for a third term. Since then, the political impasse has only deepened. Political space has been narrowed further through repression. In lieu of meaningful dialogue, the exchange of political views, primarily in the form of accusations and counter-accusations, is taking place across social media and in public communiqués. In a new development, President Nkurunziza suggested in a statement at the end of 2016 that he might seek a fourth term in office “if the Burundian people decide to change the Constitution according to their wishes”. This has the potential to plunge the country into an even deeper crisis.

3. Regional efforts to resolve the crisis through genuine, inclusive dialogue under the auspices of the East African Community (EAC) have yet to achieve a breakthrough. At the same time, there are serious concerns about the inclusiveness and legitimacy of the “national inter-Burundian dialogue” process under the auspices of the Government-established National Commission for the Inter-Burundian Dialogue (CNDI). The conclusions contained in the August 2016 interim report of CNDI included the removal of presidential term limits and other constitutional amendments which, if adopted, would undermine the 2000 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi.

4. While the Government has decided to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, suspend cooperation and collaboration with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and refuse cooperation with the commission of inquiry mandated by the Human Rights Council, human rights violations and abuses continue to be reported on a worrying scale. Meanwhile, the Government has yet to sign the memorandum of understanding with the African Union on the deployment of human rights observers and military experts. In addition, the Government’s relations with key bilateral partners remain tense, as the Government continues to attribute the crisis to external interference. While the Government insists that the situation in the country has normalized, political opposition and civil society leaders continue to appeal for urgent international action to avert the risk of further deterioration, widespread violence and mass atrocities. Despite a decline in overt violence and fewer incidences of armed confrontation, reports of human rights violations and abuses continue, including killings, enforced disappearances, gender-based violence, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and ill-treatment, along with the discovery of unidentified bodies. The allegations of more than 200 cases of enforced disappearance since October 2016 are of particular concern. From April 2015 to 31 December 2016, OHCHR documented 593 violations of the right to life, and hundreds of people continue to be arrested every month.

5. Many Burundians live in fear as a result of widespread repression and increasing intimidation by the Imbonerakure, the ruling party’s youth wing. There are also unconfirmed reports of attacks and human rights abuses committed against Government supporters and security forces. The socioeconomic and humanitarian situation has grown increasingly dire and, as of early February 2017, some 387,000 Burundians had fled the country since the beginning of the crisis. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees