Geneva, 10 April 2020 - Concerned by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential impact on the Burundian population, as the first three official cases of infection were confirmed last week, the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi openly invited the Government to fight the pandemic transparently and in compliance with international standards.
In its declaration published today, the Commission highlighted that the freedoms of information and expression are particularly important during a pandemic, clarifying that they « should not be unduly restricted in order to prevent the release of substantiated data that contradict those provided by the authorities or the dissemination of information and ideas that question or criticise the measures adopted by the Government ».
The Commission noted that some humanitarian organisations were refused access to sites where persons were quarantined in deplorable conditions. The quarantined persons should be provided with sufficient food, clean water and access to health facilities and medical services.
As the virus spreads quickly around the world, including in Africa, the Commission called on the Burundian authorities to cooperate closely and with transparency with international and non-governmental organisations and to immediately implement the recommendations of the World Health Organisation, specifically those on social distancing and to encourage all related initiatives, including on an individual basis, instead of threatening their initiators. The Government should develop, as quickly as possible, a plan to counter the threat of coronavirus and to provide assistance to persons who need it, through its own resources or by seeking international assistance and cooperation if its resources are insufficient.
« Combatting the pandemic requires a targeted, consistent and transparent effort » said Doudou Diène, the President of the Commission of Inquiry. « This is more challenging in a pre-electoral context such as in Burundi, as it requires even more vigilance. The pandemic should not be used for political or economic purposes. »
For more information about the Commission of Inquiry see CoI webpage