Burundi: Regional leaders must prioritize ongoing human rights crisis

The East African Community (EAC) must prioritize ending human rights violations in Burundi, and provide the renewed political leadership and commitment needed to end the crisis, said Amnesty International today in an open letter to the bloc’s leaders, ahead of their summit on 20 May in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam.

“The need to find a solution to this ongoing human rights crisis is more urgent than ever, and the EAC is an essential part of it,” wrote Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, in the letter addressed to the presidents of the six-member regional grouping.

The regional leaders should ensure the Burundi Dialogue has the best possible chance of success...
Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary General

“The regional leaders should ensure the Burundi Dialogue has the best possible chance of success, including by pressing the government of Burundi to conduct independent investigations into allegations of human rights violations, and cooperate with regional and international human rights institutions.”

The Secretary General’s call comes amid reports of continued unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, and enforced disappearances across the country. According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), 22 bodies were discovered in January alone, and there were more than 210 reported cases of enforced disappearance in the four months to January 2017.

Hundreds have been killed and thousands displaced since the crisis began in April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term in office.