Burundi: UN expert calls for national reconciliation and revival of Arusha agreement

Brussels, 24 May, 2023.- A UN expert today called on Burundi to overcome divisions and restore the Arusha Agreement. The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi, Fortuné Gaetan Zongo, urged the Government to show openness and engage in a constructive and inclusive dialogue for a lasting reconciliation among all Burundians.

“It is difficult to speak of normalisation and lasting peace when the judiciary lacks independence and impartiality, when thousands of Burundians continue to live in exile, when civic space does not allow civil society organisations, the media and political parties to operate independently, and when journalists are imprisoned for doing their job,” Zongo said at the end of a 10-day visit to Belgium, where he met with the Burundian diaspora and other Belgium-based stakeholders.

The expert noted that Burundi is the only African country where a woman journalist, Floriane Irangabiye, remains in prison for hosting an online programme and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for attacking the integrity of the national territory.

“Attention must go beyond political rhetoric and be refocused on the Burundian people,” the Special Rapporteur said, expressing his concerns about the social, economic, and political situation.

“Burundi is becoming a forgotten crisis over the years. It is important that all the guarantors of the Arusha Agreement, namely the European Union, the United Nations, the African Union, the East African Community and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, support and accompany Burundi in a process of lasting national reconciliation and effective respect for all human rights,” Zongo said.

The Special Rapporteur will present his annual report in September 2023 to the Human Rights Council and to the UN General Assembly in October 2023.

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