Burundi: Extend CoI mandate for a further year

In an open letter published ahead of the 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC42), a group of Burundian, African, and international civil society organisations join DefendDefenders in calling on States to support a resolution extending the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Burundi for a further year, until September 2020.

The work conducted by the CoI, which will present its latest report at HRC42, provides critical oversight of the human rights situation in Bu­run­di, the signatories write. The CoI has documented violations of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. Inde­pen­dent and critical voices, including civil society members, human rights de­fenders (HRDs), and jour­nalists, have been particularly targeted.

The pre-electoral context is likely to escalate political tensions and may lead to a subsequent rise in human rights violations. The signatories present a number of arguments that justify the renewal of the CoI’s mandate, including: (a) ensuring continued scrutiny of the human rights situation in Burundi; (b) providing the CoI and its secretariat with the time they need to complete their work; (c) ensuring consistency of action and follow-up on previous Council resolutions; (d) making clear that obstructionism and attacks against the UN are not rewarded; and (e) avoiding a monitoring gap ahead of the 2020 election, as the limited civic and democratic space in the country and the intimidation exercised by government forces, the ruling party, and members of the Imbo­ne­ra­kure hamper the pros­pects for a free and fair election.

We also suggest ways of enhancing attention to Burundi ahead of the 2020 election, including through reporting with a specific focus on elections and risk factors of human rights violations and abuses and an “enhanced interactive dialogue” at the Council’s 43rd session (February-March 2020).


Read the full letter in English.

Lire la lettre en français.


Human Rights Defender of the month: Agather Atuhaire

In late May this year, Agather Atuhaire, via her twitter account, broke the story that the Parliament of Uganda had spent a whopping Shs. 2.8billion to purchase two luxury vehicles for the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.

Aside from the fact that the expenditure was unnecessary – both the Speaker and her Deputy already have two luxury vehicles for their official duties, the purchase flouted all public procurement procedures, and when Parliament’s contracts committee could not approve the procurement, the members of the committee were fired and new ones immediately appointed to approve the purchase.