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UN Independent Investigation to visit Burundi to assess human rights situation

GENEVA/BUJUMBURA (29 February 2016) – Three United Nations independent experts appointed to investigate human rights violations in Burundi are scheduled to conduct their first country visit from 1 to 8 March.

The three experts are members of the United Nations Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB) established by the Human Rights Council on 17 December 2015 (resolution A/HRC/S-24/L.1) to undertake “an investigation into violations and abuses of human rights with a view to preventing further deterioration of the human rights situation.”

“During this visit, and in line with our mandate, we will engage with the authorities and all other relevant stakeholders,” said Christof Heyns one of the experts. “Our aim is to help the State fulfil its human rights obligations, ensure accountability for human rights violations and abuses, including by identifying alleged perpetrators.”

Mr. Heyns (South Africa), the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, is working with Ms. Maya Sahli-Fadel (Algeria), the African Union Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, and Mr. Pablo de Greiff (Colombia), the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence.

During their mission, the experts will meet with national authorities, the Human Rights National Commission, as well as other stakeholders, including the United Nations Country Team and NGOs.

“We have a clear mandate from the Human Rights Council to help prevent Burundi from falling into the abyss,” said Ms. Sahli-Fadel. “Our investigation is also designed to assist the people of Burundi as they work to adopt appropriate transitional justice measures and to maintain the spirit of the Arusha Accord,” said Mr. De Greiff.

On 21 March 2016, one of the three experts will update the Human Rights Council on its initial findings and conclusions. In September 2016, the experts will issue their final report to the Council.

ENDS

Biographies of the Experts:

Mr. Christof Heyns
Mr. Heyns (South African) is the director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa and professor of human rights law at the University of Pretoria, where he has also directed the Centre for Human Rights, and has engaged in wide-reaching initiatives on human rights in Africa. He has advised a number of international, regional and national entities on human rights issues. In August 2010, he was appointed as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.

Ms. Maya Sahli-Fadel
Ms. Sahli-Fadel (Algerian) has been teaching law at the Law Faculty of the University of Algiers 1 since 1981, and at the Diplomatic Institute of International relations (IDRI) and at the National School of Magistrates (ENM) since 2000. She had been a lawyer at the Bar of Algiers from 1987 to 1994. She has been a member of the Commission on Human Rights and Peoples since 2011. In this capacity, she is the African Union Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, and a member of the Working Group on Death Penalty and the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Between 2008 and 2014, Ms Sahli-Fadel was a member of the United Nations Working and Expert Group on People of African Descent. 

Mr. Pablo de Greiff
Mr. de Greiff (Colombia) is Director of the Project on Transitional Justice of the Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice at the New York University School of Law. From 2001 to 2014, he was Director of Research at the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ). In 2012, he was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the first Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees Of Non-Recurrence. Mr. de Greiff 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.

More information about the UN Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB) at:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/UNIIB/Pages/UNIIB.aspx

For media requests, please contact:
André-Michel Essoungou (+257 79 11 50 73 / essoungou@un.org)

UN Human Rights country page - Burundi
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/BIIndex.aspx

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