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UN to send human rights team to Burundi


The UN said Monday it will send a team of human rights investigators to Burundi to look into allegations of widespread violations committed during the country’s 10-month long crisis.

The three investigators are due to visit Burundi for a week from March 1, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a statement.

The three experts — from Algeria, Colombia and South Africa — are members of the UN’s Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB) office, set up in December and tasked with carrying out, “an investigation into violations and abuses of human rights with a view to preventing further deterioration of the human rights situation.”

“Our aim is to help the state fulfil its human rights obligations, ensure accountability for human rights violations and abuses, including by identifying alleged perpetrators,” said Christof Heyns, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary of Arbitrary Executions who is one of the investigators.

“We have a clear mandate from the Human Rights Council to help prevent Burundi from falling into the abyss,” said Maya Sahli-Fadel, the Algerian team member.

The investigators are due to present their preliminary findings in late March with a final report due in September.

Following a visit to Burundi last week by five African leaders, led by South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, the African Union (AU) said it would increase the number of human rights and military observers deployed.

“The AU will deploy 100 human rights observers and 100 military monitors to Burundi to monitor the situation,” a statement on the South African presidency’s website said Saturday.

Burundi’s political crisis was triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial decision last April to run for a third term, which he won in an election in July. Since then violence has become routine, with more than 400 people killed and nearly quarter of a million leaving the country.

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