Burundi: Washington “concerned” by the closure of the UN Human Rights Office.

“The United States is deeply concerned by the decision of the Government of Burundi to close the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,” states the US State Department on its Twitter account Wednesday night. 

THE BIG PICTURE: Some analysts see this US statement as non-valid since it has already pulled itself from the United Nations Human Rights Council over some misunderstandings how this UN Body of Human Rights works. Some argue that these concerns are just ‘mere showy US display of concerns of Human Rights violations’.

“The United States is deeply concerned by the decision of the Government of Burundi to close the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights following the denial of human rights abuses” and of limitations of the political and civic spaces by this government “, the US statement said.

According to Washington, cooperation with the UN could corroborate Bujumbura’s claims.

“Full cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the international community would allow Burundi to corroborate its claim that serious human rights violations have ceased in the country.” 

The United States recognizes the challenges that the Burundian people have had to face throughout its history and remain committed to supporting “the sustainable peace and development of the country”.

On 5 December, Bujumbura demanded the closure of the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

To that end, a verbal note was sent to the UN Resident Coordinator in Burundi, Garry Conille, for transmission to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

On October 11, 2016, the Burundian government suspended all “cooperation” with the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, accusing it of “complicity in drawing up a damning report on the situation of human rights in Burundi “.

The UN Office for Human Rights in Burundi has about twenty expatriates in addition to a network of Burundians spread all over the country.

In September 2016, the UN set up a commission of inquiry into the human rights situation in Burundi with a view to carrying out specific investigations in the country on the alleged committed crimes.

The last report of this commission, published last September, reports a “persistence of human rights violations” in the country.

Bujumbura has always rejected the “defamation” of this commission and refused to collaborate with its investigators.

In October 2017, the Burundian government also withdrew from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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