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Burundi: Recent UN Statements
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Burundi: Recent UN Statements
Date Distributed (ymd): 960105
HR/4263 28 December 1995
SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN BURUNDI
SUBMITS INITIAL REPORT
Testimony Appears To Indicate Smoldering Civil War May Be
Spreading in Burundi
The Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights
mandated to examine the human rights situation in Burundi,
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, in his initial report, emphasizes that,
according to evidence provided to him, a smoldering civil war
was spreading further and further in Burundi. The situation
had in particular deteriorated since the beginning of the
year, and significantly so since May. The general climate of
insecurity, fear and hatred affected all segments of the
population, both Hutus and Tutsis, and had led to a renewed
breakout of violence committed by extremists on both sides,
leading to the death of soldiers and many civilians each week.
Aggression, assassination and massacres, torture or arbitrary
detention were the daily lot of the Burundi people. The
Special Rapporteur noted, among other things, that complete
impunity was still enjoyed in Burundi. The insecurity and
grave violations of human rights were increasing constantly
throughout the country.
According to Mr. Pinheiro, the ethnic tension between Hutu and
Tutsi was reflected in the Government, in which the number of
cases of blockage between the two ethnic groups had increased.
This accentuated the lack of effectiveness at all levels of
State activity, whether it was a question of maintenance of
security and order in the country, the administration of
justice, the functioning of the army or the police forces, the
economic management of the country or the conducting of
education at all levels, from primary to university.
In the view of the Special Rapporteur, this state of affairs
was also due to the inertia -- even complicity -- on the part
of broad segments of the ruling classes in Burundi, the
criminal responsibility of extremist groups of all ethnic
origins, as well as the slow international response to the
need to aid the country's moderate political forces to
overcome the crises.
Despite its recognition of the horrors committed in the
country, particularly after the events of October 1993, the
international community continued to demonstrate a profound
indifference and a grave inability to act in a concrete and
effective manner, according to the Special Rapporteur.
Burundi's institutions were deteriorating and arms were being
smuggled into the interior of the country as in the border
regions. Also, certain media, in Burundi as well as in the
neighbouring countries, were transmitting unrelenting messages
of hatred aimed at destabilizing the country. By its attitude
of omission, the international community had, for the greater
part, allowed the development of the extremism raging in
Burundi. It had also contributed to the progressive
deterioration of the country's socio-economic infrastructures,
rendering economic survival more and more difficult.
In the opinion of the Special Rapporteur, the converging
political and social factors underlined a real danger that the
deteriorating situation could explode any time in the country,
with consequences as grave as those seen previously in Rwanda.
In this regard, the tensions provoked by the refugees or
displaced and dispersed persons and the "ethnic cleansing"
operations frequently could result in the concentration of the
Tutsi population in the urban zones and the forced migration
of the Hutus to the rural areas.
Among his recommendations, the Special Rapporteur stresses
that the administration of justice must be reformed as a
matter of urgency to combat impunity, possibly through the
assistance of magistrates from other African countries. He
further recommends that measures be adopted to combat
insecurity in the country, particularly by creating a national
rapid alert mechanism which could prevent violence from
degenerating into massacre or genocide. Also, measures must be
taken to reinforce the civil society of Burundi by supporting
the efforts of local non-governmental organizations.
Appropriate assistance had to be allocated to the development
of the media, particularly by training journalists in
accordance with the ethics of the profession. The Special
Rapporteur requested the strengthening of the United Nations
human rights office at Bujumbura and the acceleration of the
process of deployment of human rights observers in Burundi, as
provided by resolution 1995/90 of the Commission on Human
Rights. The Rapporteur stressed the necessity to set up a
close coordination between the three Special Rapporteurs of
the Commission on Rwanda, Zaire and Burundi.
Mr. Pinheiro was appointed Special Rapporteur last April, in
conformity with resolution 1995/90 of the Commission on Human
S/1995/1068 29 December 1995
LETTER DATED 29 DECEMBER 1995 FROM THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
ADDRESSED TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL
I have the honour to refer to the statement by the President
of the Security Council of 9 March 1995 (S/PRST/1995/10)
requesting me to continue to keep the Security Council fully
informed of developments in Burundi. In this connection, I
should like to share with you my deep concern about the
persistence of violence and the further escalation of human
rights violations communicated to me in recent reports from
the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Office of my
Special Representative in Bujumbura and other sources.
At the end of June 1995, the Special Rapporteur of the
Commission on Human Rights on the human rights situation in
Burundi, Mr. Paolo Sergio Pinheiro, undertook a visit to the
country. According to his report, Burundi is the scene of a
smouldering civil war. The situation has continued to
deteriorate since May 1995 and is characterized by daily
killings, massacres, torture and arbitrary detention. The
human rights situation "reveals an increasingly marked
genocidal trend of a socio-ethnic nature" and perpetrators are
still enjoying impunity.
In the light of his findings, the Special Rapporteur puts
forward a number of recommendations ranging from the
consolidation of democratic institutions and the reform of the
judicial system to the establishment of a national police
force accepted by both communities and the deployment of human
The deteriorating situation is underscored by recent decisions
of international organizations including the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the World Food Programme
and most non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to curtail or
suspend their activities in Burundi following a spate of
violent attacks against their personnel and assets.
Furthermore, Burundi's borders with Zaire and the United
Republic of Tanzania have remained closed for several days.
There are also recent reports of a crowd numbering several
thousand gathering in the vicinity of the Presidential Palace
in the capital.
In the existing circumstances, I fear there is a real danger
of the situation in Burundi degenerating to the point where it
might explode into ethnic violence on a massive scale. In view
of the extremely grave consequences of such an explosion, I
should like to recall once more the proposals I made to the
Security Council on 19 August 1994 and repeated in my report
of 11 October 1994 (S/1994/1152).
In particular, I suggested the maintenance in Zaire, subject
to the agreement of the Zairian Government, of a military
presence capable of intervening rapidly in the event of a
sudden deterioration of the situation in Burundi, a preventive
measure that could help to avoid a repetition of the tragic
events in Rwanda. My proposals also included the deployment of
a contingent of guards, similar to those sent to Iraq, to
protect the humanitarian organization teams; and the
deployment of human rights observers as recommended by the
High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur and
several other missions that visited Burundi.
In view of the worsening situation, the Security Council may
now wish to give renewed consideration to my proposals for
preventive deployment of military personnel and guards. As for
the deployment of human rights observers, I regret to inform
you that the High Commissioner for Human Rights has not yet
been in a position to secure the necessary funds for this
purpose despite numerous and repeated appeals to potential
In view of the seriousness of the situation, I have asked the
High Commissioner for Refugees, Ms. Sadako Ogata, to travel
immediately to Bujumbura as my personal envoy in order to
discuss with the government authorities, at the highest level,
steps that might be taken on an urgent basis to defuse the
situation and enable international organizations to function
effectively. I shall inform the Security Council about the
outcome of Ms. Ogata's mission as soon as possible.
Finally, I should like to confirm that my new Special
Representative for Burundi, Mr. Marc Faguy, left for Bujumbura
on 28 December 1995 and will assume his functions there with
immediate effect, upon his arrival on 30 December 1995.
(Signed) Boutros BOUTROS-GHALI
UN Press Release DH/2054
5 January 1996 FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS
The Security Council today condemned in the strongest
terms those responsible for the daily killings,
massacres, torture and arbitrary detention in Burundi and
said they must cease immediately. In a statement read by
its President, Sir John Weston (United Kingdom), the
Council encouraged all States to take measures necessary to
prevent such persons from travelling abroad and receiving any
kind of support. It shared the deep concern of
Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali at the situation in
the country and called on all concerned in Burundi to
exercise maximum restraint and to refrain from all acts of
The Council reiterated that all those who committed or
authorized the commission of serious violations of
international humanitarian law were individually responsible
and should be held accountable. It stressed the importance
of the International Commission of Inquiry. The Council
also reiterated its profound concern about radio stations
which incited hatred and acts of genocide and encouraged
Member States and others to cooperate in their identification
Expressing grave concern at recent attacks on
international humanitarian personnel, the Council said
such actions had led to the suspension of essential
assistance to refugees and displaced persons and the
temporary withdrawal of personnel. It underlined that the
Government of Burundi was responsible for the security of
international personnel, refugees and displaced persons there
and called on it to provide security for food convoys and
the humanitarian workers.
The Council welcomed the Secretary-General's decision to
ask the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Sadako Ogata to discuss with Burundi officials, steps which
might be taken to defuse the situation and said it would
consider his proposal for a deployment of guards in light of
Mrs. Ogata's mission and reports reaching him from the field.
It asked him to consider what role UN personnel in the
region and other support personnel might play in Burundi.
Stressing the importance of continued attention by the
international community as a whole to the situation, the
Council encouraged Member States to intensify contacts and
visits. It reaffirmed its support for the Convention of
Government of 10 September 1994 -- the institutional
framework for national reconciliation -- and again called
on all parties, military forces and elements of civil
society to fully respect and implement it.
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