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.