Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (12 December) on the closure of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Burundi:
I am very concerned about the decision by the Government of the Republic of Burundi to order the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Burundi to close.
This step represents a further departure by the Government of Burundi from cooperating with the international community on improving the human rights situation in the country.
I urgently call on the Government of Burundi to revise its decision and to restart work with OHCHR.
On 5 December, the Government of Burundi ordered the Office of the OHCHR in Burundi to close its office. The country office was opened in 2015 to report on the human rights situation in the country and to offer the Government technical cooperation. As a result of the political crisis caused by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s announcement in the spring of 2015 that he would run for a third term, the Government of Burundi suspended its work with OHCHR.
The human rights situation in Burundi is difficult. The Commission of Inquiry on Burundi established by the Human Rights Council in September 2016 presented reports to the Human Rights Council in September 2017 and September 2018. In these reports, the Commission of Inquiry concluded that crimes against humanity had been committed in Burundi in the past and were still being committed.