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Burundi: UN human rights expert to assess transitional justice efforts

GENEVA (5 December 2014) – United Nations human rights expert Pablo de Greiff will visit Burundi from 8 to 16 December to assess the transitional justice efforts undertaken by the authorities thus far. Since gaining independence in 1962, Burundi has experienced several periods and incidents of grave violence and massive abuses, often ethnically motivated.

“This first visit comes at a particularly crucial moment,” the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence said, pointing to the ongoing process of the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The creation of the truth-seeking body in Burundi is one of the main steps contained in the Arusha Agreement of 2000 and a key recommendation of the national consultations of 2009.

“However, beyond truth-seeking, my mandate focuses on the areas of justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, which,” as the expert pointed out,  “aim to redress the legacies of massive human rights violations, and to assist in providing recognition to victims, foster trust and reconciliation, and strengthen the rule of law.”

“I intend to assess objectively and impartially the work undertaken in all four areas of my mandate and offer my assistance to the Government and the entire Burundian society to adequately address past violations with the aim to continue to move forward,” the Special Rapporteur underlined.

Mr. de Greiff, who is visiting the country at the invitation of the Burundi authorities, is scheduled to meet with Government officials, representatives of the legislative and judicial branches, law enforcement officials, a broad range of civil society actors, victims, the UN and diplomatic delegations. He is scheduled to visit the provinces of Bujumbura Rural, Bubanza and Gitega.

The expert will hold a press conference in Bujumbura at the end of the visit on 16 December at 10:30 at the Office of the United Nations in Burundi (BNUB), Chaussée d’Uvira, to present his preliminary findings and recommendations. For any additional information regarding the press conference, please contact Mr. Vladimir Monteiro, Public information officer (+257 7611 5744/ +257 71236118 ; monteiro6@un.org).

A final report on the visit will be presented by the Special Rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2015.

A human rights expert from Colombia, Pablo de Greiff has extensive professional and academic expertise on transitional justice issues, including on the four measures under this mandate (justice, truth, reparations, and guarantees on non-recurrence). He has worked with different transitional justice bodies across the world and has provided advice to a number of Governments and multilateral institutions on international policy, transitional justice, and on the linkages between justice, security and development. He has also collaborated with numerous NGOs working with victims in many countries. Mr. de Greiff has published widely on the issues pertaining to his mandate and lectured in prominent universities. He was the Director of Research at the International Center for Transitional Justice from 2001 to 2014.

Mr. de Greiff was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the first Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence in 2012. As a Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government and serves in his individual capacity. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/TruthJusticeReparation/Pages/Index.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Burundi http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/BIIndex.aspx 

For further information and media enquiries, please contact:
In Bujumbura: Julia Raue (+41 79 444 4828/ jraue@ohchr.org)
In Geneva: Victoria Kuhn (+41 22 917 9278 / vkuhn@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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