Interactive Dialogue on Burundi
Statement by the United States of America
As delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper
U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council
32nd Session of the Human Rights Council
June 29, 2016
Mr. Vice President,
The United States thanks the High Commissioner and the independent experts.
Since April 2015, Burundi has descended into a political and security crisis triggered by the Burundian government’s disregard for term limits and violation of the Arusha Agreement. As a result, over 540 people have been killed and more than 260,000 have fled to neighboring countries. Extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, sexual violence, reported torture, and retaliatory attacks against government officials, opposition party members, journalists, and civil society members have continued with impunity, further threatening Burundi’s fragile peace.
Civil society and media members have fled the country due to closing space for their work and limits on the exercise of freedoms of association and expression. We call on all sides to put an end to violent acts and human rights violations and abuses. We will continue to support efforts to promote accountability for perpetrators of unlawful violence and abuses in order to support Burundians’ peaceful enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
We firmly believe that this crisis can and must be resolved, or Burundi risks losing progress gained since the signing of the Arusha Agreement, and it risks potentially descending into further conflict, including the possibility of mass atrocities. The dialogue currently led by the East African Community (EAC) and mediated by former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa represents the best avenue for bringing all stakeholders together, reaching a peaceful resolution to the crisis, and restoring stability to Burundi. We urge all stakeholders to commit to this process without redlines or conditions.
Mr. High Commissioner, how can the international community best help to focus attention and keep human rights and the concerns of victims at the center of the efforts to resolve Burundi’s political crisis?