Burundi: UPR submission on situation of human rights defenders

The human rights situation in Burundi will be reviewed on 24th January 2012 under the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. During the review, which takes place at the United Nations in Geneva, a delegation from the Government of Burundi will present their national report and UN member states will ask questions and make recommendations for the improvement of the human rights situation in the country. To contribute to this process, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Protection International and Front Line have submitted a report on the situation for human rights defenders between 2008 and 2012.

Despite some positive developments since Burundi’s first UPR (most notably the establishment of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights), the operating environment for human rights defenders in the country since 2008 has been characterized by state-imposed restrictions on HRDs work and repeated acts of intimidation and violence, often apparently at the hands of state actors. Institutional weaknesses and a lack of independence in Burundi’s justice system allow impunity for such acts to prevail.

Our key recommendations include the establishment of a national protection mechanism for human rights defenders, as well as measures to strengthen the judicial system to end the impunity for attacks on human rights defenders.

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Human Rights Defender of the month: Alex Njenga John

Alex Njenga has always believed in egalitarianism both as a principle and as a tool for justice. As a result, he has always been suspicious of, and at times hostile to social prejudices that treat some people as “more equal than others,” – to use a line from George Orwell’s famed political fable, Animal Farm.

Some of the experiences that have shaped his social and political outlook have been personal. As an adolescent in Kenya’s Uasin Gishu County, Alex was stigmatised and denied healthcare after he identified himself as belonging to Kenya’s sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) community.

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