Burundi | Commission of inquiry needed


ISHR has backed the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights abuses in Burundi and has urged the Human Rights Council to consider expelling the uncooperative state.

Update: The Human Rights Council has since established the Commission of Inquiry to investigate ongoing human rights abuses in Burundi.

During the Human Rights Council’s interactive dialogue on Burundi this week, ISHR’s Director of African Advocacy, Clément Voule, congratulated the United Nations Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB) for its report and endorsed its recommendation to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate and promote accountability for the ongoing human rights abuses.

‘The report confirms all of our fears that Burundian civil society actors, notably human rights defenders and journalists, have been primary targets of systematic repression by the authorities,’ said Mr Voule.

The report noted that ‘during the course of the investigation it became clear that more and more people who would otherwise have confronted repression have fled the country or are too scared to speak out or take action. Any semblance of opposition to the Government is dealt with ruthlessly and seemingly without fear of accountability.’

‘Human rights defenders continue to be at risk in an environment where gross human rights violations are systematic and impunity is pervasive. The situation is bad and getting worse,’ said Mr Voule.

In his statement, Mr Voule drew attention to the increasing reluctance of Burundian authorities to cooperate with the UN.

‘Recently Burundi failed to even turn up to answer questions posed by the UN Committee Against Torture and seriously threatened human rights lawyers and defenders who testified to that Committee,’ said Mr Voule.

He went on to urge the member States of the General Assembly to consider expelling Burundi from the Human Rights Council,

‘The Council needs to take decisive action on the human rights situation in Burundi. A country which perpetrates gross and systematic human rights violations and flagrantly refuses to cooperate with UN human rights bodies has no place as a member of the Human Rights Council,’ said Mr Voule.

During the interactive dialogue many states, including Germany, Canada, and Switzerland also supported the creation of a Commission of Inquiry, while the United Kingdom said, ‘As part of what seems to be a deliberate policy of non-co-operation, the Burundian government increasingly treats established fora such as the UN Committee Against Torture with contempt. These are actions of a state that is not worthy of a seat on this Council.’

The government of Burundi said it rejected the report and all of its recommendations.



  • Africa
  • Freedom of expression, association and assembly
  • Human rights defenders
  • Committee against Torture (CAT)
  • UN Human Rights Council
  • Burundi