UN Human Rights Office Closed at the Insistence of the Government
On 28th February 2019, the UN Human Rights Office in Burundi was closed at the insistence of the government, who claimed that the existence of the office was no longer justified as the country had made sufficient progress in putting in place national mechanisms for the protection of human rights. As reported previously on the Monitor, in December 2018, the government ordered the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to shut down its office within two months. Earlier in October 2016, the government – in reaction to a damning report by the UN Independent Investigations in Burundi established by the UN Human Rights Council – suspended all cooperation with the Office. The report had identified government officials, accusing them of ordering the torture and execution of opposition members.
In other developments, Emmanuel Nshimirimana, Aimé Constant Gatore, and Marius Nizigiyimana, members of the campaign group Parcem, remain in detention despite being acquitted by a Burundian court after appeal on 27th December 2018. As previously reported on the monitor, the three were arrested in June 2017 while planning a human rights workshop, and were later sentenced to ten years in prison on charges of undermining state security in in May 2018.
Faustin Ndikumana, the head of Parcem said:
"We demand that all Burundians who are in prison for their opinions be released."
#Burundi: Opposition party CNL says members are threated, arrested and ill-treated by officials. Agathon Rwasa, the leader of the party says that hundreds of his party members were arrested these last days.— Burunga (@BurungaNews) April 2, 2019
On 14th February 2019, six National Congress for Liberty (CNL) political party members were detained in Mugina Commune after holding a meeting. They were arrested by authorities who accused them of gathering illegally, despite the fact that the party was officially approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs earlier the same day.
In a similar incident, on 12th January 2019, police arrested and tortured former Burundi Prime Minister Adrien Sibomana, in Cibitoke Province. It was reported that police agents had accused him of theft three days prior to his detention. Sibomana, a member of the opposition coalition Amizero y’Abarundi, refused to join the ruling CNDD-FDD party. His relatives raised concern that they have been unable to gain access to him.