Senior UN official calls on Burundi to protect human rights ahead of next year presidential election
27 June 2014 - The United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonović, today called on authorities of Burundi to ensure that human rights are fully protected ahead of next year's presidential elections.
"A special attention must be paid to the full respect of freedom of expression, including for journalists and human rights defenders," Mr. Šimonović said in Bujumbura. He added that: "Violence linked to the electoral process must be prevented; and harassment against perceived political adversaries must not be tolerated. All these are preconditions for free and fair elections in 2015 and for its results to be accepted by everyone."
Mr. Šimonović was speaking at the end of a three-day visit to Burundi. The objective of his visit was to assess the country's human rights situation. During his visit, he met with Burundian officials, with representatives of the international community, civil society groups, and visited Bujumbura's Mpimba prison.
In his meetings, Mr. Šimonović congratulated Burundi for the country's successes, including the recent adoption by unanimity by the National Assembly of the new electoral code for the 2015 elections as well as the signing by Government and political parties and actors of the General Principles for the elections. He also noted his deep concern regarding recent developments, including the growing restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, and peaceful assembly and association as well as politically motivated incidents involving the Imbonerakure, the youth wing of the ruling party. He called on the Government ensure that perpetrators of political violence are held accountable.
Mr. Šimonović discussed with the Government the modalities of continued cooperation between the United Nations and Burundi in the area of human rights after the expiration of the mandate of the UN Office in Burundi. Mr. Šimonović concluded that the Office of the High-Commissioner for Human Rights stands ready to support the Government and the people of Burundi.