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Ambassador Harper: Statement at the Presentation of the Independent Experts' Report on Burundi
September 27, 2016

Enhanced 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

33rd Session of the HRC
September 27, 2016

Mr. Vice President,

The United States thanks the High Commissioner and the independent experts for their comprehensive and shocking report.

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.  The UN Independent Investigation on Burundi report issued on September 20, 2016, highlights this increasingly dire situation in Burundi.  Burundi’s current trend seems to be towards increased violence and humanitarian catastrophe.

Reported extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, disappearances, sexual violence, torture, unacknowledged places of detention – including in residences of senior government officials – and retaliatory attacks against opposition party members, journalists, civil society members, victims, witnesses, and government officials have continued with impunity.  The UN Experts’ Report assessed that, “To the extent that there is a reduction in violence…it is a result of increased oppression.” Burundi’s gains following the end of its civil war in 2006 are receding.  Doctors, teachers, and members of civil society and the media have fled the country.  We call on all sides to put an end to human rights violations and abuses. We will continue to support efforts to promote accountability for perpetrators of unlawful violence and abuses.

We firmly believe that this crisis can and must be resolved, or Burundi risks 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 Mkapa represents the best avenue for reaching a peaceful resolution to the crisis and restoring stability in Burundi.

To the UN Independent Investigators, how can the international community promote accountability and keep respect for human rights and the concerns of victims at the center of the efforts to resolve Burundi’s political crisis?

(end statement)