Burundi: The criminalisation of human rights defenders must stop

Street view of Bujumbura © Shutterstock

53rd Session of the Human rights council

Oral Statement during the ID on Burundi

Thank you, Mr. President,

The OMCT and the members of the SOS-Torture network in Burundi remain very concerned about the closure of civic space and the criminalization of human rights defenders in Burundi.

This week during the examination of Burundi by the Human Rights Committee, the delegation of Burundi withdrew from the dialogue after requesting the exclusion of representatives of civil society including Mr. Armel Niyongere, Secretary of SOS-Torture Burundi and member of the General Assembly of the OMCT, although he had been duly accredited by the United Nations Human Rights Office.

This unacceptable act is only one illustration of numerous allegations of enforced disappearances, arbitrary and incommunicado detentions of human rights defenders and political opponents, committed by the police, agents of the National Intelligence Service, by the Imbonerakure in recent years. More than a hundred Burundian human rights defenders are still forced to live and work in exile because of the risk of reprisals against them.

The number of cases of torture and ill-treatment remains very high, including sexual violence against women and men, in police and National Intelligence Service detention centres, as well as in unofficial detention locations and in public places.

The OMCT calls on the Burundian government to continue to collaborate with human rights protection mechanisms while stopping the persecution of activists and engaging with civil society organisations that play an important role in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Thank you.

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