Remarks at a Third Committee Interactive Dialogue with the Chair of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi (via VTC)

Madeeha Ashraf
ECOSOC Advisor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
October 26, 2020


Question: Thank you, Madam Chair. Mr. Diene, the United States thanks you and the Commission of Inquiry for your work. What key human rights developments have you observed since the presidential election? Moreover, could you comment on the interplay between human rights conditions, including freedom of speech, and the government’s response to COVID-19?

President Ndayishimiye has a historic opportunity to usher in a new and positive period in Burundian history by proving he will govern more justly and fairly than his predecessor.

We urge the president and his government to engage fully with all Burundians, including civil society and the media, regardless of political affiliation or support, to ensure that all have a voice in determining the future of their country, and can participate without undue government interference or harassment.

We welcome the commitment President Ndayishimiye made in his inauguration speech to improve human rights, fight impunity, and advance political reconciliation. We encourage the new government to continue to engage with us and demonstrate through actions its commitment to improve human rights and to end harmful policies.

The Commission reported numerous cases of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, and sexual violence. The new government should end these practices and investigate and pursue accountability for any and all human rights violations.

It should also take measures to prevent arbitrary arrests and release political activists and journalists from prison, including the four Iwacu journalists who have been imprisoned since October 2019.

We encourage the new government to end the violent tactics of groups associated with political parties, including the Imbonerakure and end the culture of impunity from which they have benefited.

Finally, we were encouraged by the recent UN trip to Burundi, and urge the new government to re-engage with international and regional human rights mechanisms and organizations. Allowing human rights observers such as OHCHR, members of the Commission of Inquiry, and international NGOs unhindered access throughout the country would be a critical step for the president and his government to demonstrate clearly that it has turned to a positive new chapter in Burundian history.