World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Burundi: Pillay denounces increasing restrictions

Burundi: Pillay denounces increasing restrictions on political and civil rights ahead of 2015 elections

GENEVA/BUJUMBURA (7 March 2014) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday expressed concern at the increasing restrictions on civil and political rights in Burundi, following a series of violent acts by the ruling party’s youth wing and the disruption of public meetings organised by opposition parties.

“I am concerned that restrictions have increasingly been imposed on freedom of assembly and on the press over the past few months in Burundi,” Pillay said.

Recent attacks by the ruling party’s youth wing, including the reported killing of an opposition youth leader on 19 February, were also hugely worrying, especially in the lead up to the 2015 elections, she added.

At least 19 violent incidents involving members of the youth wing, known as Imbonerakure, have been documented since the beginning of the year. These included beatings, acts of extortion and intimidation of political opponents, and the prohibition and disruption of political meetings.

The latest incident occurred on 28 February, when Imbonerakure members reportedly beat up members of an opposition party’s youth wing in the village of Busoni, in the Kirundo province.

“These violent acts threaten to have a negative impact on the exercise of political rights and freedoms in Burundi, and there is real risk that opposition youth groups may start to retaliate, creating a dangerous downward spiral of violence,” Pillay said.

“I call on the Government to publicly condemn these violent acts to ensure that those responsible for acts of violence are held accountable. This is essential if the rising political tensions in the country are to be defused,” she said.

The High Commissioner also expressed concern that the police, acting on instructions from administrative authorities, disrupted meetings organised by an opposition party on February 18 and 19. A workshop organized by the Bujumbura Bar Association in conformity with the new Law on Public Gatherings was also prohibited by the authorities on 18 February.

“The increasing restriction of public gatherings could severely narrow the democratic space ahead of the elections,” Pillay said.

The High Commissioner also expressed concern at legislation introduced over the past year, including the Law on Public Gatherings adopted on December 5.

“The prohibition of spontaneous gatherings by this new law may amount to a disproportionate restriction on peaceful assembly and freedom of expression,” said Pillay.

“I am also concerned that attributing civil and criminal responsibility to organisers of public gatherings, for any unlawful act committed by anyone attending such gatherings, could deter the holding of demonstrations and protests that are legitimate under international law,” she said.

The High Commissioner also drew attention to the potentially negative impact of the new Media Law, promulgated last June, on press freedom. The law requires journalists to reveal their sources of information when they report on a number of issues ranging from state security to public order.

“This legislation could all too easily lead to infringements of freedom of expression, thereby violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Pillay said. “The protection of a journalist’s sources is essential to ensure that media can play an active and vibrant role in a properly functioning democracy,” Pillay said.

“Next year’s elections will be a key test for Burundi. Continued political violence is a threat to the democratic process in a country which is still slowly recovering from a devastating protracted civil war,” the High Commissioner said.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Palestine: Ni’lin Demonstrators Met With Violence

International Solidarity Movement On the 20th of March, during Ni’lin’s weekly Friday demonstration, Israeli occupation forces attacked protestors with about 20 rounds of tear gas canisters shot with the ‘venom’ tear gas launcher mounted on a military jeep ... More>>

ALSO:

UN Envoy Says Yemen On 'Rapid Downward Spiral'

Yemen stands on the brink of civil war amid deepening political tensions and an uptick in sectarian violence, United Nations Special Adviser Jamal Benomar warned today as he explained that only through dialogue could the country achieve a peaceful political transition. More>>

Continued International Support As Vanuatu Recovers

Damage seen on Saturday 14 March 2015 in Port Vila, capital of Vanuatu, after Cyclone Pam moved through the Archipelago. Photo: UNICEF Pacific More>>

UNICEF Rushes Emergency Supplies For Cyclone-Affected Tuvalu

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is dispatching emergency life-saving supplies to communities in Tuvalu as part of its efforts to assist communities in the Pacific region that were affected by Tropical Cyclone Pam, with nutrition and hygiene kits arriving today. More>>

Vanuatu: Regenvanu Expects 50% Of People Struck By Pam To Be Homeless

Vanuatu Minister of Lands Ralph Regenvanu says more than 50 percent of those hit by super Cyclone Pam at the weekend are now homeless. More>>

ALSO:

ISIL May Have Committed Genocide & War Crimes In Iraq

The Baharka camp, 5km north of Erbil in northern Iraq, is home to thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) following the takeover of large swathes of the country by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Photo: Emma Beals/IRIN More>>

Guinea Reports Highest Weekly Ebola Case Total This Year

Guinea reports highest weekly Ebola case total so far this year, new UN data shows More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news