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Burundi: Commission of Inquiry calls for the cooperation of Government and all stakeholders

GENEVA, 27 January 2017 – Mr. Fatsah Ouguergouz, Ms. Reine Alapini Gansou et Ms. Françoise Hampson, all appointed by the Human Rights Council to form the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi pursuant to resolution 33/24*, met for the first time in Geneva from 23 to 27 January 2017.

During the week, they met stakeholders and, among other things, discussed the terms of reference of their mandate, which, according to the Human Rights Council resolution, consists of conducting a thorough investigation into human rights violations and abuses in Burundi since April 2015, including on their extent and on whether they may constitute international crimes, and identifying alleged perpetrators.

“We are calling on the Government of Burundi to cooperate with our Commission”, said the president of the commission, Mr. Ouguergouz.

“The mandate given to us by the Human Rights Council, of which the Republic of Burundi is a member, asks us expressly to engage with the Burundian authorities to provide support and expertise for the immediate improvement of the human rights situation in the country. The cooperation of the Burundian Government is needed for that dialogue to be constructive”, he added.

“We are also counting on the cooperation of neighbouring countries and other states, the African Union, the United Nations, civil society and other regional organisations for the effective conduct of our mandate”, he stressed.

Resolution 33/24 of the Human Rights Council provides for the Commission of Inquiry to present oral updates at its thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth sessions and a final written report at its thirty-sixth session, in September 2017. A secretariat to support the work of the commissioners is being established.

The Commission of Inquiry will publish a call to collect information from all stakeholders on its web page** in the coming weeks.

Mr. Fatsah Ouguergouz (Algeria) was a Justice and Vice-President of the African Court of Human and Peoples' Rights from 2006 to 2016. He was also Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Burundi from 2010 to 2011. He is a member of the International Commission of Jurists and a visiting professor to various universities.

Reine Alapini Gansou (Benin), lawyer and law professor in Benin, is a member and former President of the Commission of Human and People’s Rights. She is currently the Special Rapporteur on African Human Rights Defenders. She is also and a member of the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration. She was a member of International Commission of Inquiry on post-electoral violence in Cote d’Ivoire in 2011. She was the laureate of the Prize of Human Rights for the fiftieth year of African Countries independence in 2010. 

Françoise Hampson (United Kingdom) is Professor of International Law of Armed Conflicts and Human Rights at Essex University.  She served as an independent expert member of the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights from 1998 to 2007. She has litigated numerous cases before the European Court of Human Rights and was awarded the title of Human Rights Lawyer of the year in 1998 for her work representing Turkish Kurds.

* Resolution A/HRC/33/24 is available on:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session33/Pages/ResDecStat.aspx 

** The Internet page of the Commission is:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/CoIBurundi/Pages/CoIBurundi.aspx