Human Rights Council 31, Geneva: UK Statement regarding the Special Rapporteur on Burundi
UK statement delivered during the Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on Burundi at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, 22 March 2016.
Thank you Mr President.
The UK thanks the Special Rapporteur for his updated report on Burundi, and notes with concern the continuing deteriorating situation since the elections last year.
The UK is deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Burundi. Targeted killings, arbitrary arrests, indiscriminate attacks, torture, enforced disappearances, and violence against peaceful protestors, are being carried out by the police, Burundi’s intelligence agency, and the ruling party’s youth militia, the Imbonerakure. Political space continues to be under severe pressure.
We note in the report that the Special Rapporteur was “heartened” to see dynamic civil society organisations who have been supported by the general public and the international community for the work they do. But note that you say that since 2010 they have been increasingly marginalised with actions by the government and indeed those sections of the opposition that are turning to violence creating a climate of fear where what is left of civil society in the country is increasingly afraid to operate or speak out.
Recently there has been a small but significant increase in reports of sexual violence. This is deeply concerning. Rape should never be used as a weapon. The Government of Burundi must investigate these reports and ensure those responsible are held accountable.
The UK welcomes the appointment by the East African Community of former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mpaka as mediator in the dialogue that began in Entebbe in December. We urge the Burundian government to engage unconditionally with this inclusive dialogue.
We are concerned that in an attempt to ensure stability, civil society will be further constrained. In relation to his conclusions, how best does the Rapporteur feel the UN and international community could encourage collaboration between the Government and civil society?