Joint EHAHRDP/CIVICUS statement at the UN Human Rights Council Special Session on Burundi

Human Rights Council 24th Special Session
Special Session on Burundi, 17 December 2015
Delivered by Renate Bloem

Thank you Mr President,

CIVICUS and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) welcome the holding of this Special Session and the Council’s effort to address the escalation of violence and gross violations of human rights in Burundi.

We remain deeply concerned that state security forces continue to carry out widespread atrocities on a daily basis with impunity, including targeting civilians, representatives of civil society and members of the political opposition. The OHCHR has documented more than 240 deaths, while Burundian HRDs fear many more undocumented cases. Over 200,000 have fled the country to avoid persecution since April.
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Reports indicate that members of the ruling CNDD-FDD party are undertaking a systematic campaign to eliminate perceived opponents.
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Dissenting voices are being violently silenced by militias and security forces and the judiciary has been further compromised to enforce political repression. The closure of all the major independent media agencies since May 2015 continues to severely undermine efforts to monitor and report on the conflict.

Moreover, to further restrict independent voices, the authorities have frozen the accounts and revoked the licenses of 10 CSOs on spurious grounds, while the accounts of two other CSOs and renowned radio station, Radio Publique Africaine, have also recently been frozen. The vast majority of human rights defenders have been forced to flee the country, and those still in Burundi risk their lives on a daily basis to monitor and document human rights violations.
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Mr President, while we welcome the various regional mechanisms deployed to support a political solution, it is imperative that the Council take decisive and concerted action through the appointment of an expert investigative mission to document and hold accountable the perpetrators of human rights violations committed by all parties since the outbreak of the crisis.

As civil society organizations headquartered in Africa and with broad membership in Burundi, CIVICUS and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project strongly implore the African States represented in this Council to express their full commitment to support this imperative resolution and pave the way for a sustainable political dialogue and accountability for violations committed during the crisis.


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.