"No sign of a positive evolution" says head of UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi
In an interview with UN News and weeks before the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi presented its findings at the UN Human Rights Council, Head of the Commission Fatsah Ouguergouz stated that the human rights situation in Burundi is not improving. Members of the Commission are not allowed into the country and there is a lack of cooperation between the Commission and government of Burundi. Ouguergouz further explained:
“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. 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".
Germain Rukuki, a human rights defender with Association des juristes catholiques du Burundi (Association of Catholic Jurists of Burundi), was arrested after police searched his home without a warrant on 13th July 2017. He was detained for 14 days by the Service National de Renseignement, before being transferred to the Ngozi prison without having appeared in court. On 17th August, the Court of First Instance of Ntahangwa confirmed that Rukuki will remain in pre-trial detention on charges of "breaching the internal security of the State and rebellion".
Local monitoring groups continue to report on the ongoing human rights violations, including specific threats against activists and members of the political opposition. In its weekly report issued on 12th August, SOS-Torture Burundi noted the detention of three men by Imbonerakure militias on 9th August in Kayanza province. Emmanuel Nzambimana, Emile Bankuwunguka and Claude Nizigiyimana are, according to witnesses, teachers and members of opposition parties who, prior to their arrest, filed a complaint against the Imbonerakure.
Une année après la disparition de Jean Bigirimana, journaliste Burundais. pic.twitter.com/DyVIiq5eJs— HRD Burundi (@hrdburundi) 31 juli 2017
22nd July 2017 marked one year since the disappearance of journalist Jean Bigirimana, who reported for the independent weekly Iwacu. On 22nd July 2016, the journalist left his home to meet a source in Muramvya after receiving a phone call. Witnesses claimed they saw Bigirimana with members of the National Intelligence Service. His wife, who has never stopped demanding the truth about what happened to her husband, received several threats. The authorities have yet to conduct a proper investigation into his disappearance.