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Burundi: Talks begin on justice & reconciliatio

Top UN legal expert begins talks in Burundi on justice and reconciliation

The top United Nations legal expert is leading a mission of high-level UN officials to Burundi aimed at helping to set up a truth and reconciliation commission and a special tribunal for human rights abuses committed during the country’s 12-year long civil war.

“Peace thirsts for truth and reconciliation. Durable peace thirsts for justice as well,” Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Nicolas Michel said on arriving at the Bujumbura airport on Sunday.

“We are particularly encouraged in our mission by the fact that the country authorities give a high priority to reconciliation and to the end of impunity as essential elements for consolidating a durable peace,” he added.

Mr. Michel’s delegation, which is responding to a request by the Security Council that Secretary-General Kofi Annan consult with the Government of Burundi, includes members of the UN Legal Department, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (UNHCHR), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and the Department of Political Affairs.

According to the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB), the delegation’s first round of negotiations with the Government began yesterday and included the first Vice-President of Burundi and the ministers of justice, national solidarity, as well as representatives of ONUB led by Carolyn McAskie, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to the country.

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