In 2007, OHCHR integrated its Burundi office into BINUB. The Office supports the missions of UN human rights mechanisms, including the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Burundi and other mandates with whom Burundi interacts, even though the country still does not completely fulfill its human rights obligations. Burundi will be reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review at its third session in 2008, and is one of the pilot countries of the Peacebuilding Commission.
Burundi is emerging from a long civil war during which serious human rights violations occurred. The newly elected Government and its institutions are still fragile. The human rights situation is precarious due to the lack of capacity of rights-holders and duty-bearers. There is widespread poverty, and few enjoy the full range of economic and social rights. Civil society organizations and the media have made considerable progress in promoting human rights. However, continued external support is required for maintaining the progress achieved.
The Government and the United Nations have embarked on a programme of judicial reform to combat long-standing impunity and restore trust between the population and the judiciary.
The integrated office in Burundi made significant progress in laying the foundations for the establishment of an independent national human rights commission and the creation of a truth and reconciliation commission. The Office also provided technical assistance to the Government in revising its criminal law and trained judicial and penitentiary staff. The Office also helped increase awareness about sensitive human rights issues among civil society, the media, and new law enforcement personnel. However, these foundations are precarious, given the country’s volatile security situation.
The Office provided technical assistance for the establishment of a multi-sectoral committee to prepare the long overdue State party report under various UN conventions. As a result, two reports (to CAT and to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women – CEDAW) were submitted to treaty body committees. BINUB will continue to work with the Government to implement the recommendations made by these committees.
BINUB will also continue to support the establishment of an independent national human rights commission through advocacy, the preparation of a legal framework, and the creation of transitional justice mechanisms, including a truth and reconciliation commission. In cooperation with other partners, the Office will help improve the functioning of the judicial system by providing technical assistance in revising criminal law and training judicial and penitentiary staff and paralegals. The Office will raise awareness about human rights in civil society,women’s groups, and the media through training, technical assistance and partnerships with key institutions and organizations. It will also help integrate human rights principles into the work of UN agencies by providing training on the human rights-based approach.