Thursday, February 03, 2011

Burundi: Burundi urged to set up national human rights body without delay

Independent Expert of the Human Rights Council on Burundi Fatsah Ouguergouz

UN - An independent United Nations expert today welcomed the adoption of the law on setting up Burundi’s national human rights body and urged the authorities to set it up without delay.

Fatsah Ouguergouz, the Independent expert on the situation of human rights in Burundi, is mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to provide technical assistance to the Government to help improve the human rights situation in the small African nation.

The National Assembly and the Senate adopted a law last December creating the Independent National Human Rights Commission, which was promulgated by the President on 5 January 2011.

“I call on the Burundian authorities to appoint without delay the Commissioners following an open, transparent and democratic process which will guarantee the effective participation of all concerned social entities,” said Mr. Ouguergouz.

“Measures should be taken to ensure the effective functioning of this institution in line with the Paris Principles, particularly regarding the guarantees of independence and pluralism of this new institution,” he added. Adopted by the General Assembly in 1993, the Paris principles relate to the status of national institutions.

Mr. Ouguergouz noted that most of the concerns on the initial draft of the law expressed by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in December 2009, as well as his own, which he shared with the authorities during his recent visit to the country, have been taken into consideration and the relevant provisions amended accordingly.

“Nevertheless, I request the authorities to ensure that the financial autonomy of this new institution be respected in order not to threaten its effective independence,” the expert stressed, calling on all of Burundi’s partners to support the establishment of the Commission.

Mr. Ouguergouz, a judge at the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights in Arusha, Tanzania, began his mandate with the Human Rights Council last August. He reports to the Geneva-based body in an independent and unpaid capacity.