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Burundi: UN expert urges government to press ahead with the new Independent National Human Rights Commission

GENEVA 2 (February 2011) – UN Independent Expert Fatsah Ouguergouz welcomed the adoption of the law on the Independent National Human Rights Commission and urged the authorities to set up effectively and without delay this Commission. The National Assembly and the Senate adopted a law last December creating the Commission which was promulgated by the President on 5 January 2011.

“I call on the Burundian authorities to appoint without delay the Commissioners following an open, transparent and democratic process which will guarantee the effective participation of all concerned social entities,” said the Independent Expert mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to provide technical assistance to the Government with the view to improving the human rights situation in Burundi.

“Measures should be taken to ensure the effective functioning of this institution in line with the Paris Principles*, particularly regarding the guarantees of independence and pluralism of this new institution,” Mr. Ouguergouz said.

The Independent Expert noted with satisfaction that “most of the concerns on the initial draft of the law expressed by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on 23 December 2009 as well as my own, which I shared with the authorities during my recent visit to the country, have been taken into consideration and the relevant provisions amended accordingly.”

“Nevertheless, I request the authorities to ensure that the financial autonomy of this new institution be respected in order not to threaten its effective independence,” Mr. Ouguergouz underscored.

“An essential step in the process to successfully set up the Independent National Human Rights Commission has been accomplished,” the UN Independent Expert said, “Now I invite all partners of Burundi to support the establishment of this institution as well as the commencement of its activities.”

The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Burundi, Fatsah Ouguergouz (Algeria), started his mandate on 1 August 2010. He is currently a judge at the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights in Arusha, Tanzania. He has worked at the International Court of Justice and the UN Office of Legal Affairs, and lectured at Yale Law School and other universities in Washington, Paris and Geneva. Mr. Ouguergouz is the author of numerous publications on international law, human rights, and the mechanisms for human rights protection in Africa, and has advised the African Union in this regard.

(**) The Paris Principles relating to the status of national institutions see GA resolution 48/134: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/parisprinciples.htm or http://www.nhri.net/default.asp?PID=312&DID=0

Learn about the mandate and work of the Independent Expert on Burundi: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/bi/mandate/index.htm

OHCHR Country Page – Burundi: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/BIIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Julie Tetard in Geneva (Tel.:+ 41 22 928 93 01 / e-mail: jtetard@ohchr.org) or Bamazi Kossi Tchaa in Burundi (Tel: +257 22 20 52 95 / +257 76 12 52 95 / email: tchaa@un.org).