African Union goes on a fact-finding mission in Burundi

African Union urges faster plans for troop deployment to Burundi
African Union urges faster plans for troop deployment to Burundi

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) undertook a fact finding mission in Burundi in accordance with the promotion and protection mandate of the commission.

The mission was a request from the Peace and Security Council of the African Union which set out a certain delegation to investigate human rights violations and other abuses in Burundi since the beginning of the crisis in April 2015.

The delegation consisted of Pansy Tlakula, Chair of the Commission and Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Reine Alapini-Gansou, a Special Rapporteur, Jamesina Essie L. King, Chair of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and Dr Solomon Ayele Dersso, Chairperson on the Working Group on Extractive Industries, the Environment and Human Rights Violations.

Other duties delegated were to establish the causes, facts and circumstances that precipitated and constitute such violations and abuses within the framework of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as such relevant international humanitarian law rules.

In addition, they were also to specify and qualify the human rights violations and other abuses that emerged since the beginning of the current crisis.

The delegation made the mission a success as they managed to meet and discuss with various stakeholders from the state apparatus, civil society, media actors, members of the diplomatic corps, international organisations and humanitarian organisations.

They also managed to visit a detention centre, a hospital and received testimonies from victims of the crisis.

Reports of ongoing human rights violations and other abuses including arbitrary killings and targeted assassinations, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, arbitrary suspension and closure of some civil society organizations and the media were also pointed out.

On Friday, December 11th, there was an eruption of major exchange of gunfire, explosions and shootings that lasted the whole day and to the escalation of violence and human rights violations.

Solutions to stop the war in Burundi were also mentioned such as emphasizing on the current crisis which cannot be solved through violence.

While calls on the Government of Burundi would be made to ensure that all acts of violations of human rights are investigated and redressed.

Moreover, the delegation expressed its appreciation to the Government of Burundi for accepting to host the mission and for the measures it took in ensuring the smooth conduct of the mission that was carried out between the 7th and 13th of December 2015.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called, on Wednesday (December 16), for urgent talks to avert civil war in the country as the Central African country defended the actions of its security forces and rejected any idea of stationing foreign troops on its soil.

Ki-Moon said he would send his special adviser Jamal Benomar to the region for talks with the Burundi government, other countries and the African Union on ways to defuse a crisis that has spurred fears of a return to full-scale ethnic conflict.

However, Burundi dismissed criticism of its security forces, saying they acted professionally after insurgents attacked military bases in the capital, and also said there was no need to send foreign peacekeepers to the African nation.

The U.N. Security Council considered actions that include sending a peacekeeping force to deal with Burundi’s crisis, which pits supporters of President Pierre Nkurunziza against those opposed to his third term in office.

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Story By Gathoni Jemimah
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