Burundi Solidarity Group Memorandum to East Africa Legislative Assembly on Gross Human Rights Violations in Burundi

Background Information

Burundi has experienced violations in the period after the incumbent decided to run for office on a contentious third term. Some of the citizens were outright opposed to the process citing the Burundi Constitution and the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. The protests both in the streets and also through Judicial process, media and intellectual debates experienced violent crackdown from the state.

Following the Burundi disputed elections held on 21 July 2015, media houses, journalists and activists reported threats, violations and displacement of persons. Exiled civil society actors and friends of Burundi in the East Africa formed a solidarity group to investigate allegations of crimes against humanity, document and report. In the process of documentation, there are real concerns of gross human rights abuses and violations that the solidarity group would like to present some of the findings and concerns to EALA.

Situation analysis
Concerns on increasing political prisoners in Burundi 
Forced disappearances of persons by the state
Violent attacks on peaceful protestors and specific attacks on women
The Imbonerakures (ruling party militias) arrest and kill people who are said to be supporting the opposition
Reprisals on journalists, media houses and human rights defenders

The Burundi Solidarity Group composed of the Coalition for Constitution Implementation Kenya (CCI Kenya), Coalition for Grassroots Human Rights Defenders (CGHRD), Bunge la Mwananchi (BLM), Rights Promotion and Centre (RPP), Kenyan Peasants League (KPL), Wamama Sasa na Uongozi, World March of Women (WMW), Pan- African Grassroots Women Liberation, Dandora Must Change, Unga Revolution  and the People of Kenya hereby present this memorandum to East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) regarding the ongoing Burundi Crisis.

The Burundi Solidarity Group ask EALA to perform its role under Article 8(5) of the Treaty which stipulates that the laws of the Community take precedence over national laws on matters of the Community and pass legislations compelling the Burundi Government to respect the Arusha Peace Agreement.

Burundi Constitution

By targeting the HRDs, Activists and Opposition supporters with Killings, Executions, Rape, Arbitrary Arrests, Segregations and Injuries and by rigging elections, the Burundi Government has contravened:

Article 13 of the Burundi Constitution that states that all Burundians are equal in [their] merits and dignity. All citizens enjoy the same rights and have right to the same protection of the law. No Burundian may be excluded from the social, economic or political life of the nation because of their race, of their language, of their religion, of their sex or of their ethnic origin.

Article 14 of the Burundi Constitution that states that all Burundians have the right to live in Burundi within peace and within security and that they must live together in harmony, while respecting the human dignity and tolerating their differences.

Article 15 of the Burundi Constitution that states that the Burundi Government is constructed on the willingness of the Burundian People and that the Burundi Government is responsible before them and respects [their] fundamental freedoms and rights.

The article 19 of the Burundi Constitution that states that the rights and the duties proclaimed and guaranteed, among others, by the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man, the International Pacts relative to the rights of man, the African Charter of the Rights of Man and of Peoples, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination concerning Women and the Convention relative to the rights of the child are an integral part of the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi and that these fundamental rights are not subject to any restriction or derogation, except in certain circumstances justifiable by the general interest or the protection of a fundamental right.

Article 24 of the Burundi Constitution stating that every woman, every man has the right to life

Article 25 of the Burundi Constitution stating that every woman, every man has the right to the freedom of their person, notably to the physical and psychical integrity and to the freedom of movement and that no one shall be submitted to torture, or to cruel, inhuman or degrading penalties or treatments.

Article 31 of the Burundi Constitution stating that the freedom of expression is guaranteed and that the State respects the freedom of religion, of thought, of conscience and of opinion

Article 32 of the Burundi Constitution stating that the freedom of assembly and of association is guaranteed, as well as the right to found associations or organizations in accordance with the law

Article 49 of the Burundi Constitution stating that no citizen may be forced into exile

Article 75 of the Burundi Constitution stating that multipartiism is recognized in the Republic of Burundi

Article 96 of the Burundi Constitution stating that the President of the Republic is elected by universal direct suffrage for a mandate of five years renewable one time

Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement

By targeting the HRDs, Activists and Opposition supporters with Killings, Executions, Rape, Arbitrary Arrests, Segregations and Injuries and by rigging elections, the Burundi Government has contravened:

The Article 1 (1) of Protocol II of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that states that all Burundians are equal in value, dignity, are entitled to equal rights, equal protection of the law and that no Burundian shall be excluded from the social, economic or political life of the nation on account of her/his race, language, religion, gender, or ethnic origin.

The Article 1 (2) of Protocol II of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that states that all Burundians are entitled to live in Burundi in security and peace, and must live in harmony with one another while respecting one another’s dignity and tolerating one another’s differences.

The Article 1 (3) of Protocol II of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that states that Burundi Government shall be based on the will of the Burundian people, shall be accountable to them, and shall respect their fundamental rights and freedoms.

The Article 2 (1) of Protocol II of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that states that Burundi shall be a sovereign independent nation, united but respecting its ethnic and religious diversity and recognizing the Bahutu, the Batutsi and the Batwa, who make up the one nation of Burundi.

The Article 3 (1) of Protocol II of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that state that the rights and duties proclaimed and guaranteed inter alia by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenants on Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child shall form an integral part of the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi and that these fundamental rights shall not be limited or derogated from, except in justifiable circumstances acceptable in international law and set forth in the Constitution.

The Article 3 (6) of Protocol II of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that state that all women and men shall have the right to life.

The Article 3 (7) of Protocol II of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that state that all women and men shall have the right to personal freedom, including to physical and mental integrity, and to freedom of movement, to be free from torture and any other kind of cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment and that all Burundi Citizens shall have the right to be free from violence from either public or private sources.

The Article 3 (10) of Protocol II of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that state that all Burundi women and men shall have the right to respect for their private and family life, residence and personal communications.

The Article 8 (a) of Protocol III of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that state that it is the responsibility of the Burundi Government to protect the inalienable rights of the human person, starting with the right to life and including the rights to freedom, security, work, education and freedom of expression, and all other rights embodied inter alia in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the international conventions to which Burundi is a party.

The Article 23 (1) of Protocol III of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that state that peace in Burundi requires a favourable national, regional and international environment.

The Article 23 (2) of Protocol III of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that state that all Burundian politicians including Nkurunziza shall undertake to respect the political neutrality of the defence and security forces.

The Article 25 (1) of Protocol III of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that state that called for Ceasefire which is defined as the cessation of all attacks by air, land and lake, as well as all acts of sabotage; all acts of violence against the civilian population – summary executions, torture, harassment, detention and persecution of civilians on the basis of ethnic origin, religious, beliefs and political affiliations, incitement of ethnic hatred, arming of civilians, use of child soldiers, sexual violence, training of terrorists, genocide and bombing of the civilian population.

The Article 10 of Protocol IV of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that state that the Government shall ensure, through special assistance, the protection, rehabilitation and advancement of vulnerable groups, namely child heads of families, orphans, street children, unaccompanied minors, traumatized children, widows, women heads of families, juvenile delinquents, the physically and mentally disabled, etc.

The Article 13 of Protocol III of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that state that political reconstruction of Burundi is aimed at making national reconciliation and peaceful coexistence possible, and must be directed towards the establishment of the rule of law which include promotion of the rights and freedoms of the human person, initiation of tangible actions for the advancement of women, reform of the judicial system, support of democratization, including strengthening of the parliamentary system and support for the political party system, support for the development and strengthening of civil society and provision of support for independent media.

The Article 15 of Protocol III of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi obligated the Burundi Government to correct the imbalances in distribution of the country’s limited resources and to embark on the path of sustainable growth with equity by increasing rural and urban household income, providing all children with primary and secondary education at least to the age of 16, reducing the infant mortality rate by at least half, giving the entire population access to health care and improving the well-being of the population in all areas.

In light of the above, We call upon the EALA:

To push for stepping down of Nkurunziza and his government setting pace for free and fair general elections.

To enforce the Article 10 of the PROTOCOL V of the Arusha Burundi Agreement that requires the heads of State of the countries of the region to provide their support for the peace process in Burundi as they are guarantors of the Agreement.

To push for setting up of an independent electoral body to conduct fresh elections in Burundi

To push for setting up of a special tribunal to try war crimes in Burundi

To send all EALA MPs in to go to Burundi to pile pressure on Burundi Government to step down and push for respect Human Rights and Social Justice

To push for establishment of a mechanism to protect HRDs in Burundi through EAHRDP, Frontline Defenders and Urgent Action Fund

To push for immediate release of all political prisoners in Burundi

To push for upholding of freedom of expression in Burundi and reopening of all banned media houses

To push for setting up of an inclusive dialogue structure spearheaded by EAC and including all sectors of Burundi society

To push Burundi government to invest more on public service delivery, social justice, human rights, peace processes and provision of basic needs like food, shelter, water, healthcare and social security so as prevent disillusionment that makes youths susceptible to violence.  

To push Burundi Government to disband vigilantes and militias like the Imbonerakure, Mayi Mayi and Interahamwe and setting up of independent Police and security apparatus in Burundi.

To push Burundi to set up strong Justice Systems in Burundi that all Burundi people can believe in and trust

To push for immediate deployment of the African Union Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi (MAPROBU) to prevent further killings

Should EALA fail to implement the above then the Burundi Solidarity Group will have no option but to organize the East African Citizens to organize sit-ins at EALA.

Supported by

David Otieno
Kepta Ombati
Gitahi Githuku
Tom Oketch
Musa Chekai
Sophie Dowllar
Rachael Mwikali
Merita Ombuor
Rachael Irungu
Tom Oketch
Jackline Karambu
Wilfred Olal
Mungai Mbuthi

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