At the conclusion of their second visit to Burundi, the three human rights experts of the United Nations Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB) called for concrete steps to be taken to end the crisis in the country. The UNIIB is composed of Mr. Christof Heyns (South Africa), the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions; Ms. Maya Sahli-Fadel (Algeria), the African Union Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons; and Mr. Pablo de Greiff (Colombia), the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence.
While noting that the number of executions has dropped, UNIIB experts, including Special Rapporteur de Greiff, stressed that disappearances and torture persist, and that “impunity for serious present and past violations remains the order of the day.” The experts also observed that many political prisoners remain incarcerated and that a new pattern of mass arrests has emerged, including the mass arrests of children, some of whom, accused of scribbling on pictures of the Head of State in school textbooks, now face up to 10 years in prison.
Special Rapporteur Heyns stressed the need for tangible progress in power-sharing and an inclusive dialogue that addresses the roots of the conflict. “These are preliminary observations, and we look forward to working further with Burundian authorities and society to take the protection of human rights forward,” he added.