GENEVA, October 27, 2015 – UN Watch expressed grave concern that Burundi, despite its police killing a journalist and aid worker just two weeks ago, and committing other gross human rights abuses, is on an uncontested slate of African countries virtually guaranteed to win election tomorrow to the UN Human Rights Council.
“Burundi’s corrupt government has trampled the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association, and commits extrajudicial killings and torture of detainees, particularly members of opposition parties,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. “It is one of the last countries in the world that should be elected by the UN as a wold judge of human rights.”
UN Watch will be holding a press conference at UN headquarters in New York today to oppose the election tomorrow of Burundi, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Lao, Pakistan, Togo, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela, on account of their poor records on human rights.
African countries agreed among themselves to field only 5 candidates for 5 positions allotted to the region, despite UN promises that elections to its human rights council would be authentic.
Neuer said that the use of closed slates frustrated the very purpose of holding elections. According to the UN’s own criteria, UNHRC candidates are supposed to be chosen based on their promotion and protection of human rights.
On August 3, 2015, Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, a prominent human rights activist, was shot, in what was seen as a clear attempt to silence civil society.
Latest Burundi Killings
The UN itself has acknowledged the rapidly worsening security and human rights situation in Burundi, finding that at least 198 people have been killed in Burundi since April 2015, and one third of them — 63 people — in the last three weeks alone.
The UN said it was “shocked” at the deadly incident which took place on October 13th in the Bujumbura neighbourhood of Ngagara. At least nine civilians were reportedly summarily executed by a special unit of Burundi police forces, including a well-known cameraman of the National Radio and Television of Burundi, Christophe Nkezabahizi, his wife, their two children and an IOM staff member living in the same compound, Evariste Mbonihankuye.
While police forces were searching houses in the area, members of the Nkezabahizi family were reportedly called out of their home, lined up and shot in cold blood. Reports suggest the IOM staff member was wearing his United Nations ID, but was still shot dead.
Despite previous reports of attacks against humanitarian personnel, this is the first time a humanitarian worker is killed by security forces since the beginning of the crisis.
The appalling incident was apparently triggered by an attack on three API police officers by unidentified armed youth in the same neighbourhood. One of the police officers was reportedly killed and another injured while the third managed to escape and called for help.
Four other people, including one minor, were also reportedly killed by the police in a separate incident at the same location on the same day. At least four houses were fired at, as evidenced by the many bullet holes in their walls and broken windows which were observed by the UN team on the ground. The houses were also reportedly looted by the police.