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HRC31: Side-event on Burundi on 4th March at 3pm

DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) will host the side event “Crisis in Burundi: Implementing Sustainable Solutions” at the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council.

▶︎ Date: 4 March 2016  ▶︎ Time: 15:00 – 17:00  ▶︎ Place: Room XXIV, Palais des Nations


  • Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders
  • Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, President of APRODH
  • Tom Gibson, Representative for Burundi and DRC at Protection International


  • Hassan Shire, Executive Director of East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project.

▶︎ Refreshments and translation will be provided ◀︎

Since April 2015, the human rights situation in Burundi has markedly deteriorated, following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term bid. Protests against the President’s third term were violently crushed while the rights to freedom of association, of assembly and of expression were heavily undermined before, during and after the elections in July 2015.  The Burundian authorities have since silenced independent media and the vast majority of human rights defenders have fled the country. Many of those who remain in Burundi continue to be subject to intimidation, harassment and physical attacks.

Extra-judicial and arbitrary killings also remain routine, while a more organised armed opposition is emerging. According to the UN, as of January 2016, more than 439 people have been killed as a result of this violence.

However, national and international monitoring groups fear that these numbers are in reality much higher. More than 240,000 Burundians have fled to neighbouring countries including Rwanda, Tanzania, DRC and Uganda, heightening the spectre of greater regional spill over.

The December 2015 Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council, which culminated in the adoption of a strong resolution mandating the High Commissioner for Human Rights to deploy a mission by independent experts to visit the country to investigate human rights violations, represents an important step to ensuring greater accountability for violations of fundamental rights in Burundi. However, the Burundian Government’s refusal to facilitate this mission has severely hampered efforts to identify and implement a sustainable resolution to the crisis.

In addition, the UN Security Council conducted a visit to Burundi in January 2016, during which the deployment of a prevention and protection mission, the need for an inclusive political dialogue with the opposition, and the UN mandated mission of independent experts were discussed. However, the Burundian Government has clearly expressed its rejection of the deployment of an AU or UN force.

In this context, this side event aims at fostering a discussion on the current human rights situation in Burundi and the way forward for the Council. In view of the deteriorating human rights situation, this side event will examine how the Council can play an active role in preventing further violations in Burundi.

The event will also provide an important opportunity for the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, to further discuss his recent mission to Burundi and engage in a candid dialogue with leading Burundian civil society activists about the developing situation on the ground.

This side event is facilitated by

  • East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
  • CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  • Amnesty International
  • Protection International
  • Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • International Commission of Jurists
  • Human Rights Watch
  • World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
  • International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  • International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)