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OHCHR in Burundi (2006-2007)


Background

 
OHCHR's office in Burundi opened in 1995 to conduct both human rights promotion and protection activities. Since 2005, the office has embarked in a process of integration with the Human Rights Section of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB), established by the Security Council in 2004. The integration policy aimed at ensuring a smooth transition after the expected withdrawal of ONUB by the end of 2006. In this context, a joint comprehensive human rights programme has been developed for the period 2006 - 2007. The programme establishes a clear repartition of tasks and responsibilities avoids duplication of work and ensures complementary between all UN agencies. At present it is part of the Human Rights and Justice Section in the new UN integrated mission in Burundi (BINUB) established by the Security Council resolution 1719.

OHCHR Burundi also implements its activities in close coordination with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Government and non-government actors.

The office is composed of three units: a Protection Unit, which builds national capacity in the area of human rights protection; a Justice Unit, which supports the judicial, police, and prison institutions, advocates legal reform, and provides direct legal assistance to defendants and complainants concerning the events of 1993; and a Promotion Unit, which helps to build civil society's capacity to address human rights problems. Two sub-offices, in Ngozi and Gitega, focus on providing legal assistance and monitoring detention facilities. The Burundi office also supports the work of the Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Burundi. 
 

2006-2007 Programme

 
In an effort to promote a wider understanding of human rights and to improve the capacity to protect and promote human rights in the country, OHCHR will launch a comprehensive national human rights awareness campaign, which will use cultural vehicles, such as theatre, song, cartoons, and poetry, to spread the message about human rights. Some specific issues, such as sexual violence and child rights, including reintegrating child soldiers, will be emphasized throughout the campaign.

OHCHR will monitor and record human rights violations in order to increase the national capacity to protect and promote human rights. A human rights database will be established to keep track of identified cases.

To complement its human rights monitoring activities, OHCHR will organize a wide range of human rights training seminars for members of the Government's human rights commission, civil society representatives, including women community leaders and members of the national human rights network, and national human rights observers. There will also be human rights training seminars for uniformed personnel, including military, police, and prison officers. OHCHR will publish periodic reports on the human rights situation in the country and produce human rights teaching materials and tools for use by public school teachers and students.

The office will provide technical assistance to Government officials to improve their capacity to meet the country's international human rights obligations. Activities will include technical assistance on treaty body reporting, particularly with respect to the Convention of the Rights of the Child, and assistance in harmonizing national legislation with international human rights standards. The office will also advocate for the establishment of an independent National Human Rights Commission.

Through training and seminars on human rights targeting judicial officials and paralegals, OHCHR aims to increase the capacity of the justice system to protect human rights. The office will advocate for the adoption and implementation of transitional justice mechanisms, including the adoption of a law on a National Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Special Chamber. Technical workshops for national and international judges and prosecutors appointed to the Special Chamber are also planned. OHCHR will establish a working group within the United Nations Country Team on transitional justice mechanisms.

By organizing training sessions and workshops on a rights-based approach to the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for United Nations agencies, the office aims to improve their capacity to assist Burundi in establishing national mechanisms for the protection of human rights. OHCHR also intends to organize human rights training seminars for ONUB's uniformed personnel.

Expected Accomplishments

 
Increased human rights awareness by the population at large.

Increased capacity of the administration of justice to promote and protect human rights.

Harmonization of national legislation with international human rights standards.

Transitional justice mechanisms in place and operational. 

Contact Information

Headquarters

Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division
Geneva, Switzerland

Africa Section 
Tel. +41 22 928 9694
Geneva, Switzerland

Field

United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB)
email: marxj@un.org

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