HRC38: High Commissioner’s oral update on Burundi

UN Human Rights Council – 38th regular session
Items 2 and 10: Technical assistance and capacitybuilding (including oral update on Georgia) and the High Commissioner’s oral update on Burundi

Oral statement delivered by Clémentine de Montjoye

Mr. President, Mr. High Commissioner,

This statement is delivered on behalf of DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Hu­man Rights Defenders Project).

Burundi denying access to—or even worse: withdrawing visas from—the experts mandated by a resolution the government has itself sup­ported can only be referred to as what it is: a case of extreme policy incoherence, hypocrisy, and bad faith.
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This Kafkaesque situation only adds evidence to one very simple fact: Burundi, which refuses any form of cooperation and continues to launch personal attacks against independent experts and UN officials, is unfit to serve as a Council member.
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Last September, we were worried that the Burundian government’s move to push members of its regional group to present a resolution, under item 2, which competed with the resolu­tion extending the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry, was an attempt at abusing the Coun­­cil’s time and resources and at diverting attention from the egregious vio­lations do­cu­mented over the years. These fears have been confirmed. However, the result has been that more attention, not less, has been brought to Burundi—with no fewer than seven debates in this room this year.
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We stand by our findings, those of the Commission of Inquiry, and OHCHR assessment of the situation in Burundi, expressed in statements delivered under other agenda items.

Thank you for your attention.


Human Rights Defender of the month: Esther Tawiah

In Ghana, Esther Tawiah is one of the loudest voices for women empowerment and gender. It is also why she is one of the most loathed. Born and raised in New-Tafo in the country’s eastern region, Esther grew up surrounded by a culture that frowned at the idea of women participating in public affairs, and witnessed firsthand, the backlash those who dared to challenge that cultural norm faced.

“I grew up in a society where ageism and sexism were so entrenched. As a young person, you weren’t supposed to give your opinion on public issues, especially if you were a woman. Women who dared to speak up were caricatured and branded as frustrated, unmarriageable prostitutes, all designed to shut them up,” she says.