Posts Tagged ‘early warning’

Burundi: reprisals, torture, incitement to hatred and continued refusal to admit monitoring

August 29, 2016

The situation in Burundi continues to be marred by instability and reports of serious human rights violations, including allegations of extra-judicial killings, disappearances, torture, and arbitrary detention of members of the opposition, civil society and those suspected of opposing the Government. Human rights defenders and journalists are among the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled the country since April 2015. I have written quite 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-needhttps://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/what-is-burundi-doing-in-the-un-human-rights-council/]. And the situation continues:

  • The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) issued a wake-up call to Burundi said Amnesty International on 12 August 2016 after the Committee flagged an increase in the use of torture and other ill-treatment since the beginning of the country’s current crisis in April 2015. In its concluding observations the Committee’s 10 independent international experts expressed deep concern over hundreds of cases of torture alleged to have taken place in recent months in both official and unofficial places of detention.
  • On 8 August 2016 the CAT had already issued a report that it was gravely concerned by reports that four Burundian lawyers who provided information to it are being subjected to reprisalsIn a press statement issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Committee said the four lawyers – Armel Niyongere, Lambert Nigarura, Dieudonné Bashirahishize and Vital Nshimirimana – had contributed to an alternative report by a coalition of Burundian non-governmental organizations for the its review, and three were present at the review in Geneva on 28 and 29 July. According to the Committee, on 29 July, a Burundian prosecutor asked the President of the Bujumbura Bar Council to strike the lawyers off the professional register, alleging that they had committed several offences, including involvement in an insurrectionist movement and an attempted coup. The Committee’s letter, signed by Chair Jens Modvig and Rapporteur on Reprisals Alessio Bruni, notes that the prosecutor requested sanctions against the lawyers, rather than an inquiry to establish the facts, “which raises concerns with respect to presumption of innocence.” It goes on to state that this concern “is all the stronger given that the (prosecutor’s) request came on the same day that the Burundian delegation, presided over by the Minister of Justice, indicated they would not be participating in the second session of dialogue with the Committee, citing the alternative report by Burundian civil society in particular as the reason.” [Mr. Modvig and Mr. Bruni also point out that the Committee raised the issue of reprisals after the last regular review of Burundi in 2014. They reminded the Burundian Government that reprisals contravene Article 13 of the Convention against Torture, to which the country has been a party since 1993. Article 13 states that complainants and witnesses should be protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of making a complaint or giving evidence.]
  • Finally on 16 August the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, expressed his concern at inflammatory statements by public officials that could constitute incitement to violence including, most recently, by a senior official of the ruling CNDD-FDD political party. In a statement on 16 August 2016 that was published on the CNDD-FDD website, Pascal Nyabenda, who was at the time President of the CNDD-FDD party and President of the National Assembly, suggested that the genocide in Rwanda was a fabrication of the international community, (“montages genocidaires contre le Gouvernement dit Hutu de Kigali”) that was used to remove the Hutu government that was in place at the time.   “This irresponsible statement could be interpreted as genocide denial”, Mr. Dieng said, “and has the potential to inflame ethnic tensions, both within Burundi and outside its borders”.  At the 20 August meeting of the party, a new head of the CNDD-FDD was appointed but Mr. Nyabenda continues in his role as President of the National Assembly. Special Adviser Dieng also raised concern that the youth wing of the CNDD-FDD party, known as the Imbonerakure, continues to be associated with human rights abuses and is reported to have threatened ethnic violence. He noted that the Minister of the Interior of Burundi had confirmed that the Imbonakure formed part of the national security strategy, as the CAT also pointed out in its concluding observations.
  • To make things even worse Burundi has rejected in early August the deployment of a United Nations police force saying the France-drafted resolution authorizing the security contingent was made without Bujumbura’s consent. “The government of Burundi rejects every aspect of this resolution linked to the deployment of any force on its territory,” spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba said in a statement released on Tuesday, adding that the resolution was “in violation of the fundamental principles required of the UN family and above all violating its sovereignty.” The response came after the UN Security Council authorized to dispatch of up to 228 officers to Bujumbura and elsewhere throughout the west African country for an initial period of one year, in an attempt to provide the council, according to French Ambassador Francois Delattre, with “eyes and ears” on the ground to provide early warning of possible mass atrocities. The planned deployment of the contingent has aroused fury from the country’s authorities, who initially agreed to accept no more than 50 officers The country’s authorities initially agreed to accept no more than 50 officers, but now infuriated by the UN planned deployment of 228-strong contingent, have rejected even the 50-strong security force.
  • An overview of FIDH actions concerning Burundi in 2015/16: https://www.fidh.org/en/region/Africa/burundi/burundi-one-year-of-bloody-crisis

http://allafrica.com/stories/201608270196.html

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=54640#.V8Pm3IRptgc

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/08/burundi-un-findings-must-be-a-wake-up-call-on-torture/

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/08/03/478262/Burundi-UNSC-UN-Nkurunziza-police-France

‘Rights up Front’ presented by Jan Eliason: “It is irrefutable that serious human rights violations are the best early warning of atrocities”

December 26, 2013

(Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras)

Still haunted by its failure to forestall genocide in Rwanda and Srebrenica nearly 20 years ago and confronted by ongoing bloodshed in Syria and the Central African Republic (CAR), the United Nations is revamping its preventive strategies under a new initiative called ‘Rights up Front.’ “The need for early action, and the crucial role of responding early to human rights violations, is at the heart of theRights up Front’ initiative,” Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told an informal session of the General Assembly on 17 December 2013 – as he presented a six-point action plan.

It includes training UN staff on the world body’s core purpose of promoting respect for human rights; providing Member States with the information needed to respond to human rights violations; and ensuring that UN personnel around the world are more attuned to situations where there is a risk of serious human rights abuses and are equipped for the responsibilities that such potential crises entail.

The strategy, initiated by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, also includes achieving a more coherence by strengthening engagement with the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council and providing earlier and more coherent support to teams on the ground before a crisis emerges; and better organization of human rights staff so that they can identify risks of serious violations of human rights that could lead to atrocities.

Finally, underpinning all these activities will be better information management on threats and risks to populations for planning operational activities and for sharing with Member States.

“. ..It is irrefutable, and needs repeating, that serious human rights violations are the best early warning of impending atrocities.” Eliasson said. “If we fail to act early, the human, political and economic costs can be devastating as we know far too well. This calls for a more alert, flexible and coordinated UN System, both on the ground and at headquarters.”

Horrendous events led us all to say ‘never again’, Mr. Eliasson said. “We said we would have to do more to prevent serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Despite much effort, since 1995 hundreds of thousands of people have died as a result of mass atrocities and tens of millions have been displaced.” But steps forward have been taken. “World leaders endorsed the ‘responsibility to protect in 2005. And Member States have over the years articulated an increasingly detailed agenda for the protection of civilians,” he said. Yet, the crises in Syria, where over 100,000 people have now been killed and 8 million driven from their homes in the nearly three-year civil war, and in CAR, where thousands have been killed and over 600,000 displaced in a conflict increasingly marked by inter-communal clashes between Christians and Muslims, are reminders that serious human rights abuses are often the clearest early warning of emerging conflict, he added.

“When people in today’s world are at risk or subject to serious violations, they expect and request the United Nations to act – and we do,” Mr. Eliasson declared. “However, in practice, our response to crisis often comes when a situation has deteriorated to the point where only a substantial political or peacekeeping mission can deal with the problems.”

via United Nations News Centre – New UN ‘Rights up Front’ strategy seeks to prevent genocide, human rights abuses.