'No sign of positive evolution' in Burundi, says head of independent UN rights probe
21 August 2017 – Ahead of next month's presentation to the United Nations Human Rights Council, an independent panel today said that the human rights situation in Burundi has not improved.
Fatsah Ouguergouz, the head of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, told UN News that based on more than 470 testimonies with people inside Burundi and in exile, alleged human rights abuses in the Great Lakes state are continuing.
"Since last June, where the Commission made its oral declaration at the Human Rights Council, we received no sign of a positive evolution of the situation in Burundi, in particular as far as the restriction to certain freedoms are concerned," Mr. Ouguergouz said. "On the contrary, we have received some testimonies since June showing that there's a kind of tendency that what we have underlined in June is persisting."
The Commission is following up on reports of horrific abuse including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances, and sexual violence.
"The signal that we have received through those testimonies are for us clear evidence that the situation is not improving since June," the senior official said.
He noted that "there is no cooperation with the Government" on these findings, and that the Commission was not allowed into the territory. The nearly 500 interviews were done outside of Burundi or through third-parties with people in Burundi.
The findings will be presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in September.
Established for a period of a year at the Council's 33rd session last year, the Commission has also been mandated to identify the alleged perpetrators of violations and abuses, since April 2015, with a view to ensuring full accountability.
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