Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Thursday, 24 January 2013 (Morning)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is intended for use of the information media and is not an official record.  The note provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review and does not cover all points addressed.  An official summary of the meeting can be found in the Working Group report.)

State under review

Burundi
Represented by six-member delegation headed by Clotilde Niragira, Minister of National Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender.

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Burundi page on the UPR website.

Troika *

Benin, India, Republic of Moldova.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Burundi page on UPR Extranet )

  • Burundi was witnessing a decisive turning point and has made major achievements in the area of human rights which have been recognized by the international community; 
  • More than two years ago Burundi organized democratic elections, for the second time since 2005, leading to the emergence of the present Government and a climate peace and security;
  • A Bill on the prevention, protection and repression of gender-based violence was currently being adopted; Judges have also been appointed in civil courts specifically responsible to follow up on gender-based violence;
  • An independent national election commission was also set up to prepare the ground for the 2015 elections;
  • The Government also developed a national strategy for the socio-economic integration benefiting those hit hard by the former conflict;
  • Burundi recently adopted the second generation strategic framework on growth and the fight against poverty aiming to create jobs, which was launched in Geneva in October 2012;
  • Following the Arusha agreement of 2000, Burundi set out to advance human rights in the country and has enacted several laws and set up a number of institution in that regard, among them the Office of the Ombudsperson and the law to establish a national commission on human rights;
  • Other progress made was the enactment of the new criminal code, raising the age of criminal responsibility from 13 to 15 years,  and abolishing the death penalty; a criminal policy document was also drafted with a view to respect the rights of persons on trial so as to ensure human rights throughout the judicial process;
  • The Government has also undertaken a broad programme to relieve overcrowding in prisons, including through parole measures and Presidential pardons; prison rehabilitation and reintegration measures were also in place;
  • The provision of basic social services is an areas which has also experienced significant progress; school attendance rates have increased and maternal and infant mortality rates have also reduced;
  • Human rights violations still existed in view of land conflicts and access to water and sanitation were among the urgent issues facing the people in Burundi;
  • The reintegration of refugees and post-conflict issues still posed major challenges which  required concerted efforts and additional resources; therefore the Government of Burundi appealed the international community to support it in its efforts to live up to these challenges.

Participants

In total 75 States participated in the dialogue:  30 HRC members and 45 observers  (Statements available on the Burundi page on UPR Extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The establishment of an independent national commission on human rights;
  • The abolition of the death penalty;
  • The State’s poverty reduction and job creation strategies;
  • Steps to revise the penal code and reform the judicial system;
  • The establishment of a child and family department within the Ministry of Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender;
  • Advances made in the area of human rights since the first UPR.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Efforts to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a special court to address war crimes;
  • Steps taken to address acts of extra judicial killings, ensure those responsible were punished and uphold the independence of the judiciary;
  • Measures undertaken to address instances of gender-based violence;
  • Steps to uphold freedom of expression and to avoid restrictions against the media and human rights defenders; 
  • Efforts to stamp out all forms of discrimination including that based on sexual orientation and against minorities;
  • Steps to bolster cooperation with the UN Special Procedures.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Burundi.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To accelerate work to create the truth and reconciliation and a special tribunal to review war crimes;
  • To ensure the independence of judges in the country and extend an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges;
  • To fully investigate all extra-judicial executions and cases of torture and ensure those responsible were prosecuted; to extend an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings; 
  • To set up training programmes for police to prevent and address cases of torture and to set up a national preventive mechanism regarding torture and to ensure that conditions of detention centres and prisons met domestic and international standards;
  • To ensure legislation fully upheld the right of freedom of expression in compliance with international commitments; to ensure that journalists were able to carry out their work independently and without fear of prosecution or intimidation and the safety and well-being of human rights defenders;
  • To pass legislation to address sexual and gender-based violence; to enact anti-trafficking legislation and enforce existing trafficking provisions
  • To ensure that children with disabilities had full access to education and health services and to adopt specific legislation to eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities;
  • To decriminalize same sex relations and to revise the education policy which entrenched discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation;
  • To continue measures to combat discrimination and violence against albinos; to facilitate living conditions for the Batwa minority particularly its access to land;
  • To strengthen efforts to increase food security and prioritize efforts to combat poverty; 
  • To strengthen the capacity and resources of the independent national human rights commission;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: The OPCAT, the 2nd OP to the ICCPR, the CRPD, the Convention on enforced disappearances, the 3rd OP to the CRC, and the OP to CEDAW.

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Burundi is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, 29 January 2013.

The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR. 

Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org.

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