In his first oral report since beginning his work as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Burundi’s human rights, Fortune Gaetan Zongo called on Burundian authorities to grant him access to their country for his mandate to allege violations in that country. to investigate properly.
Zongo noted with satisfaction that since the start of his mandate on April 1, Burundi’s return to the international scene has begun with the lifting of sanctions by the European Union, the United States and others. In return, he said Burundi had begun interacting with international and regional actors.
In addition, he said Burundi had made some progress with human rights. He noted that Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye had pardoned more than 5,000 people in detention and had also freed some journalists and civil society representatives. He spoke through an interpreter.
“But despite this great progress made since 2020, further efforts are still needed in the area of combating impunity, to strengthen institutions, especially in the justice sector, the police and the military,” Zongo said. “In protecting the enjoyment of the public. Freedoms and the expansion of the democratic space through effective participation of civil society and the media.”
Zongo said he intended to fulfill his mandate in an impartial manner and would examine documents from all sources on the human rights situation in Burundi.
However, he noted that he only has access to partial information obtained from secondary sources. This, he said, could affect the credibility and neutrality of his effort.
“From the height of these tribunes, I would like to request the Burundi authorities the opportunity to communicate with them – to visit this brother country to better understand the realities on the ground, the country’s opportunities, as well as the challenges and priorities. of that country. ”
Burundi’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Renovat Tabu, said Burundi had made great strides in implementing reforms and promoting good governance, social justice and freedom of expression.
He said his country was aware of the crucial role the council was playing in strengthening, promoting and protecting human rights around the world. But he added that Burundi would not accept any mechanism or political efforts to interfere with the home affairs of sovereign states.
The comments effectively closed the door for Zongo visiting Burundi – at least for now.
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