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Human Rights Expert condemns killing of Burundian anti-corruption activist

16 April 2008

GENEVA - The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Burundi, Akich Okola, has expressed outrage over the killing of Mr. Ernest Manirumva, the Vice-President of the Observatory for the Struggle against Corruption and Economic Embezzlement (Observatoire de Lutte contre la Corruption et les Malversations - OLUCOME), a non-governmental and anti-corruption organization, on the night of 8 April, at his home in Bujumbura. Mr. Manirumva was a leading figure in the promotion of good governance in Burundi.

“His death is yet another proof that the right to freedom of expression is under attack in Burundi and that those who choose to exercise it freely are in danger” said the Independent Expert. “I urge the Burundian authorities to investigate this case in order to bring perpetrators to justice.”

The Independent Expert also expressed deep concern over reports indicating that other staff members of OLUCOME are regularly subjected to intimidation and threats. “This situation is simply unacceptable” said the Independent Expert who further urged the Burundian authorities “to take appropriate measures to ensure the protection of OLUCOME staff as well as other members of civil society and human rights defenders in particular”.

“Increasing trends to restrict freedom of expression and freedom of association threaten consolidation of peace in Burundi”, warned the Independent Expert.

He also reminded the Burundian authorities of a number of recommendations concerning guarantees to freedoms of association, expression, opinion and peaceful assembly made in the context of the Universal Periodic Review, a mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council that recently considered the human rights situation in Burundi.

Mr Akich Okola was appointed the Independent Expert of the UN Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights in Burundi in 2004.