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Burundi: the UN extends the Special Rapporteur’s mandate

As grave human rights violations continue to be reported in Burundi, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council maintained its scrutiny of the country by extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for a year. This decision will allow the Special Rapporteur to report on Burundi through­out 2023. DefendDefenders calls on states that have influence on the Bu­run­dian government to urge it to bring years of defiance to an end and to start cooperating with the Council. 

“The Burundian government should realise that international scrutiny of its human rights record will not dis­ap­pear as a result of lack of cooperation,” said Hassan Shire, Exe­cu­tive Direc­tor, Defend­Defen­ders. “Instead, it should start engaging with the Special Rapporteur and resume cooperation with the Office of the High Com­missioner for Human Rights.” 

In his first written report, the Special Rapporteur on Burundi, Fortuné Gaetan Zongo, listed a series of ongoing human rights concerns in the country. In a letter released ahead of the Human Rights Council’s 51st ses­sion (HRC51), over 50 civil society organisations urged states to support the extension of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate to ensure continued monitoring, reporting, and public debates on the situation in Burundi. They high­lighted that the Special Rapporteur needs more time to fulfil his mandate. 

“Successive Council resolutions and expert reports form a road map for human rights re­forms,” said Nico­las Agostini, Rep­re­­sen­tative to the UN for Defend­Defen­ders. “When the time comes, they will help the Burun­dian people build a rights-respecting Burundi led by an accountable government.” 

After a human rights, political, and humanitarian crisis erupted in 2015 when the late President Nkurunziza deci­ded to seek an un­­constitutional third term in office, the Human Rights Council set up a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Burundi, in 2016, to investigate violations and identify perpetrators. After the CoI completed its work, in 2021, the Council mandated a Special Rapporteur to, among others, monitor the human rights situation, make recom­men­dations for its improvement, collect, examine and assess information from all relevant stakeholders, and report to the Council. 

The Burundian government has refused to allow the CoI or the Special Rapporteur access to the country. At the request of the government, the High Commissioner closed her country office in Bujumbura in 2019. 


For more information, please contact:

Estella Kabachwezi
Advocacy, Research and Communications Manager, DefendDefenders
[email protected] or +256 782 360 460 (English)

Nicolas Agostini
Representative to the United Nations for DefendDefenders
[email protected] or +41 79 813 49 91 (English and French)


Version française : « Burundi : l’ONU renouvelle le mandat du Rapporteur spécial »