Oral Statement on Burundi read by Pierre Claver Mbonimpa at the 31st Session of the Human Rights Council

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31st Session of the Human Rights Council

Joint EHAHRDP, CIVICUS and Protection International Oral Statement during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and the Special Advisor of the Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide 

Read by Mr Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, President of APRODH



Mr President,

On behalf of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, CIVICUS and Protection International, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak before this Council once again.

During the Special Session in December 2015, I spoke of the Burundian Government’s brutal campaign to suppress dissenting voices. Since then, reports of enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, brutal torture, sexual violence and extrajudicial executions have only increased. Since then, the Government of Burundi has assumed a seat in this very room, despite the worsening crisis and its flagrant refusal to abide by its obligations as a member of the Council.

While we welcome Mr Forst’s report and his continued attention to the plight of human rights defenders in Burundi, since his visit in November 2014, the vast majority of the civil society organisations’ leaders Mr Forst met with have been forced to close their organisations, and scores of human rights defenders and journalists have fled the country. Whereas Mr Forst was able to exchange with human rights defenders and journalists openly, civil society and journalists now hide from international and regional monitoring missions for fear of reprisals.

I thank the Council for its support, and remain hopeful that the OHCHR expert mission will be able to meet isolated defenders at risk still working independently in the country. I urge the Council to seek guarantees from the Government of Burundi, as a member state of the Council, that all human rights defenders will be free from violent reprisals resulting from their reporting to international bodies.

I thank you.


Lu par M. Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, président de l’APRODH

Monsieur le Président,

Au nom du East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, CIVICUS et Protection International, je vous remercie de m’accorder une nouvelle fois la parole au Conseil des droits de l’homme.

Pendant la session spéciale de décembre 2015, j’ai parlé de la campagne de répression brutale qui cible les voix dissidentes au Burundi. Depuis, les rapports faisant état de disparitions forcées, de torture brutale, d’arrestations arbitraires, de violences sexuelles et d’exécutions extra-judiciaires n’ont fait qu’augmenter. Depuis, le gouvernement du Burundi a pris sa place dans cette salle, malgré la crise qui s’aggrave et son refus de respecter ses obligations en tant que membre du Conseil.

Bien que je salue le rapport de M. Forst et son attention soutenue au sort des défenseurs des droits de l’homme burundais, depuis sa visite en Novembre 2014, la grande majorité des dirigeants des organisations de la société civile ont dû fermer leurs organisations, et plusieurs dizaines défenseurs et de journalistes ont dû fuir. Alors que M. Forst a pu échanger avec des défenseurs des droits de l’homme ouvertement, la société civile et les journalistes se cachent aujourd’hui des missions d’observation régionales et internationales de peur d’être cibles de représailles.

Je remercie le Conseil pour son soutien, et j’espère que la mission d’experts du bureau du Haut-Commissaire pourra rencontrer les défenseurs à risque qui continuent de travailler seuls et indépendamment au Burundi. Je prie le Conseil de demander des garanties du gouvernement du Burundi, en tant qu’État membre du Conseil, pour s’assurer que les défenseurs des droits de l’homme indépendants ne seront pas soumis à des représailles violentes suite au partage d’information avec des institutions internationales.

Je vous remercie.


Human Rights Defender of the month: Kasale Maleton Mwaana

Kasale’s human rights activism precedes his years. The son of pastoralist parents from Ngorongoro district in northern Tanzania, he grew up seeing his parents and entire community having to defend their land and way of life against authorities who thought their lands could be put to better use. Now, at 25, Kasale is already one of the most recognizable advocates of his people’s cause, much to the ire of Tanzanian authorities.
“Our people’s struggle goes back many generations. It started with the pushing out of our forefathers from Serengeti to gazette Serengeti National Park in 1959, and then further evictions from the Ngorongoro crater to gazette the Ngorongoro conservation area in 1975. Since then, every generation has had to resist further evictions. It’s now my generation’s turn,” he says.