Saturday, February 06, 2010

Bilateral Relations: Netherlands and Burundi to cooperate on human rights, security issues

Source: Government of the Netherlands -The Netherlands and Burundi are to step up cooperation in the security sector in order to improve the security and human rights situation in Burundi. This was the outcome of the political dialogue held this morning in The Hague between members of the Dutch and Burundian governments.

Present at the discussions were the Dutch foreign minister, Maxime Verhagen, the development minister, Bert Koenders, and the defence minister, Eimert van Middelkoop. The Burundian delegation included the Ministers of Foreign Affairs (Augustin Nsanze) and Defence (Germain Niyoyankana) and the Minister of Public Security (Alain Guillaume Bunyoni). The closer cooperation will be managed within the framework of the Netherlands' 3D policy, the combination of diplomacy, defence and development that is already being applied in Burundi, as well as in Afghanistan.

Mr Verhagen voiced his concerns about reports of political activists being arrested and harassed by youth militias, and of curbs on the freedoms of civil society organisations. 'Successful elections can only be held this summer if these human rights violations are stopped,' he said. He also expressed the Netherlands' disappointment that homosexuality had been made a criminal offence in Burundi last year.

The Dutch government nonetheless has great admiration for the progress that has been made in Burundi in recent years. 'It is quite amazing that peace has been achieved in a country that for years was riven by a civil war which killed hundreds of thousands,' Mr Koenders commented. 'Hundreds of thousands of refugees have now returned, rebel groups have registered as political parties and the death penalty has been abolished. But these achievements can only be consolidated by investing in improving the security situation.'

As part of the cooperation between the countries, Dutch instructors are training the Burundian army and police, barracks have been renovated and equipment to help the police maintain public order is to be provided. In addition, training on human rights is also under way.

During the political dialogue the Netherlands expressed its displeasure at the Burundian government's decision to expel the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General (ERSG), Youssef Mahmoud, last week. The Dutch ministers strongly urged the Burundian leadership to cooperate fully with any newly-appointed UN representative.

Published by i On Global Trends - Mike Hitchen Online - news, opinion, analysis
See also Sydney Irresistible and for personal comment, Mike Hitchen Unleashed
Putting principles before profits