Burundi: what more ‘early’ warning does one need?

November 10, 2015

Pierre Claver Mbonimpa is President of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH) in Burundi. He was the Laureate of the MEA 2007 and on 27 October 2015 he received the Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network’s East Africa Shield Award. What happened to him in the last months is telling (for earlier items see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/pierre-claver-mbonimpa/):

MEA Laureate Mbonimpa, Burundi

MEA Laureate Mbonimpa, Burundi

  • On 3 August 2015, prominent human rights defender Pierre Claver Mbonimpa – laureate of the MEA 2007 – was shot in the face and neck. He was forced to seek medical treatment abroad.
  • His son-in-law, Pascal Nshimirimana, was shot dead outside his home in Bujumbura on 9 October.
  • On 6 November, the body of Welly Nzitonda, the son of Mbonimpa, was found dead a few hours after he was arrested in the Mutakura neighborhood of Bujumbura where protests have taken place.
  • Just before that – on 3 November – Mbonimpa spoke out on a video message from the place where is recovering: https://www.defenddefenders.org/2015/11/voices-that-cannot-be-silenced-pierre-claver-mbonimpa-speaks-out-on-burundi/

On 9 November 2015 eleven leading human rights NGOs addressed an Open Letter to the UN Human Rights Council urging them to organize a special session to prevent (further) atrocities in Burundi.

The letter speaks for itself (see link below) but some key points are:that the Council should express its deep concern about the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Burundi and the impact of the crisis on the Burundian people and the stability of the region, as well as about the targeted attacks on human rights defenders, journalists and their family members;

that the Council should  condemn in the strongest possible terms political violence, human rights violations and abuses and incitement to violence on political, ethnic or other grounds in Burundi, as well as the ongoing impunity enjoyed by perpetrators, including police and security forces, youth groups affiliated with political parties, and officials;

that the High Commissioner for Human Rights should urgently appoint a group of independent experts to monitor, verify and report on the human rights situation in Burundi, with relevant expertise in mass atrocity prevention, as well as in combating incitement to violence on political and ethnic grounds, with a view to making recommendations on preventing atrocities, combating incitement to violence and improving the human rights situation, in particular with regard to the issue of accountability for human rights violations and abuses; and that the report should be ready by 15 December 2015 to be shared with the Human Rights Council by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and with the Security Council by the UN Secretary-General.

At its last regular session, the Human Rights Council already expressed serious concern at the human rights situation in Burundi and foresaw (Resolution 30/27) the possibility to have interactive dialogues in 2016. However, the Government of Burundi has failed to heed the message of restraint sent by the Council – including the call “to refrain from any action that could exacerbate tensions in Burundi” – and the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Burundi does not allow the Council to wait until March 2016 before taking additional measures to prevent atrocities in Burundi.

Burundi is on the verge of widespread violence. Targeted extrajudicial killings have continued unabated, as has a full range of other human rights violations and abuses.

The use of incendiary language by a number of high-level officials in the last two weeks is serious cause for alarm (several examples are cited in the letter).

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed extreme concern on 23 October at the rapidly worsening security and human rights situation in Burundi, mentioning in particular summary executions by police forces.

See also : https://www.fidh.org/en/region/Africa/burundi/www.fidh.org/en/region/Africa/burundi/https://www.hrw.org/africa/burundiwww.hrw.org/africa/burundihttps://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/africa/burundi/www.amnesty.org/en/countries/africa/burundi/

4 Responses to “Burundi: what more ‘early’ warning does one need?”


  1. […] There has been almost unanimity on the need for international attention and action. For those who want to see some of the major reports that came out recently, see the summary below. See also my earlier post: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/burundi-what-more-early-warning-does-one-need/ […]


  2. […] is still one of the basket cases in Africa and since my lats post nothing has improved [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/burundi-what-more-early-warning-does-one-need/].  The Special Session of the Human Rights Council in December 2015 mandated the High […]


  3. […] a bit about Burundi where all early warning signs of violence and ethnic cleansing are present [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/burundi-what-more-early-warning-does-one-need; https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/what-is-burundi-doing-in-the-un-human-rights-council/]. […]


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