Burundi suspends dealings with UN human rights body

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Burundi suspended cooperation with the UN’s human rights arm on Tuesday, accusing it of creating “false controversy” with claims of violence against political dissidents.

The state described UN investigators as “persona non grata” and said it would “suspend all cooperation and collaboration in all its structures with this office until a new order”.

Tuesday’s statement followed a September report from the United Nations Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB). This claimed there was “abundant evidence of gross human rights violations” by the state against those opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Unrest in Burundi crisis started in April 2015 when Nkurunziza announced his candidacy for a controversial third term.

Since then, more than 400 people have been killed and tens of thousands have fled the country to seek refuge in neighboring states within the East African region, mostly in Rwanda.

The UNIIB report said UN experts had received the names of 12 senior members of the government plus agents of the National Intelligence Service, police and army “who have allegedly been responsible for many cases of enforced disappearances, and who report directly to the inner circle of the Executive”.

It claimed there were also numerous reports of sexual violence against girls and women who were trying to flee the country.

“The team also documented cases involving extreme sexual mutilation, as well as allegations of sexual violence against men, particularly in detention,” the UN Human Rights Office said in a statement.

Other victims were targeted because of connections to individuals opposed to the president’s third term or perceived political dissidents.

However, Burundi dismissed the claims and accused the UN’s human rights wing of “complicity” in the UNIIB claims.

“Following the complicity played by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Right in Burundi, in preparing the report and false controversy experts of the alleged United Nations Independent Investigation on Burundi, the government of Burundi has decided to suspend all cooperation and collaboration in all its structures with this office until a new order,” Tuesday’s statement read.

“The government of Burundi has declared persona non grata on its territory three UNIIB experts whose names follow: Maya Sahli Fadel from Algeria; Christof Heyns from South Africa; and Pablo de Greiff from Colombia for default and harm to the state and people of Burundi.”

In a separate story, three people — including a member of the ruling party — were killed on Monday night following a grenade attack carried out by unidentified assailants in the capital Bujumbura, Oscar Ndikumwenayo, a local administrative authority, told Anadolu Agency.

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