Category archives for: Burundi

Ordinary Citizens Have No Access to Justice, Says Justice Expert

By Lorraine Josiane Manishatse

The Observatory for Government Action (OAG) alongside the Association of Catholic Jurists of Burundi (AJCB) calls on Burundi Government to increase the budget allocated to the Ministry of Justice to ensure that total population has access to justice.

A large number of the Burundian population does not have access to justice, reveals a study conducted by OAG and AJCB. The Burundian judiciary lacks financial means. Low income litigants face a lot of problems when defending their rights in courts while the Burundian constitution provides for all the citizens the right to fair justice, said justice expert Michel Masabo on 10 October.

He said the Burundian Justice system is not accessible to all litigants. Prof. Masabo calls on the Government to mobilize more resources for the Ministry of Justice in order to help individuals to have access to justice especially by allocating a budget to the translation of legal texts into the national language ‘Kirundi’ and providing training for justice actors,’ said Masabo. “Otherwise there is a risk of settlement of account and popular justice, “he added.

For this justice expert, regardless of the low economic growth prevailing in Burundi the, funds would be available if the Government made the Justice Ministry its priority.

Boaz Nimpe, Public finance expert, said the ministry is facing the challenge of access to justice by litigants. “Infrastructures are not enough, prisoners are living in difficult conditions due to the lack of subsidies,” said the expert in public finance.

For him, every citizen who pays taxes should benefit from public services. He also said the litigants had sometimes to pay fuel for judges to have their judgment passed.

Nimpe said the Burundian government should include the Ministry of Justice in its priorities. “It is rare that the budget allocated to the Ministry of Justice reaches 2% of the total expenditure of the State budget. The annual budget for the financial year 2016 was BIF 1326 billion.

The Director General of the Ministry of Justice, Ntakimazi Venant, said the service in charge of assisting indigent persons receives a budget of BIF 4, 600,000 per year. “This year we assisted 30 indigent people,” he said adding that 5,000 indigent others already enrolled will be assisted by the Ministry with the support of its partners by 2018.

Burundi

Burundi Government Urges EU to Remove Sanctions

During the 47th Parliamentary Assembly of African, Caribbean and Pacific States and the European Community held in… Read more »

Burundi Government Urges EU to Remove Sanctions

By Diane Uwimana

During the 47th Parliamentary Assembly of African, Caribbean and Pacific States and the European Community held in Belgium this 9 October, Spès Caritas Njebarikanuye, first- vice speaker of Burundi Senate, said Burundi will not have the courage to ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement in the context of economic sanctions imposed against it.

She exhorted the group of ACP partner states and all member countries including the EAC countries to ask the EU to lift sanctions imposed against Burundi in order to create favorable conditions for the conclusion of a regional economic partnership. “The EU unilaterally suspended its direct cooperation with the government of Burundi and put the country under a regime of sanctions”, she said.

The first vice speaker of the Senate said, in such circumstances, the interests of Burundi are not taken into account in the post-Cotonou negotiations. “In contract negotiation, criteria must be the same for all the parties, which is not the case for Burundi”, she said.

In March 2016, the European Union, the main long-standing donor to Burundi, suspended its financial direct aid to the government including budget support, but has maintained its humanitarian aid and full financial support for the population. The EU aid was suspended due to the non-respect of the Cotonou Agreement, especially its article 96.

Gabriel Rufyiri, Chairman of the corruption watchdog-OLUCUME says that even if Burundi refutes to sign the agreement, other countries will do so as it happened for the EAC visa with the EAC integration. “Each partner state signs it when it is ready especially by taking into account the interests the country and its citizens”, he says.

OLUCOME chairman also says the majority of the ACP-EU partner states take into account the rate of the import-export to sign such an agreement. “Even if Burundi government exports few products, it should ratify the agreement by considering its advantages for the good of Burundians”, he says.

Rufyiri says the negotiators of the agreement sometimes do not take into consideration the added values of an agreement for the benefit of the populations. He, however, says Burundi government is still dragging behind other countries due to the economic sanctions imposed by the EU.

Burundi

Ordinary Citizens Have No Access to Justice, Says Justice Expert

The Observatory for Government Action (OAG) alongside the Association of Catholic Jurists of Burundi (AJCB) calls on… Read more »

Man Who Killed Six People Found Dead

By Bella Lucia Nininahazwe

On this Monday 9 October 2017, at around 3P.M, a man called Jean Claude Ntirandekura killed 6 people on Rweya hill in Buhiga commune of Karusi province.

The 24 year-old man killed three people using a machete and burned three others in their houses. He burnt 11 houses, and killed other domestic animals like goats and cocks.

The six killed people are a man, two women (the criminal’s wife and his mother) as well as three children.

According to people in the neighbourhood, the young man’s dead body was found hanged on a tree on Karuzi- Muyinga road this Tuesday morning at 7km from where the crime was committed. This information is also confirmed by police and local administration.

People from Karuzi say the criminal had spent the whole day drinking alcohol before killing those people.

Jean Claude Ntirandekura was a carpenter and neighbours say he lived in perfect harmony with other people.

Seven persons have been arrested for investigation among them, the chief of Rweya hill.

Pierre Nkurikiye, police spokesperson, says investigations are underway to know whether the killer was killed or killed himself and find out the reasons behind the crime.

Burundi

Ordinary Citizens Have No Access to Justice, Says Justice Expert

The Observatory for Government Action (OAG) alongside the Association of Catholic Jurists of Burundi (AJCB) calls on… Read more »

Some Members of Ruling Party Youth Wing Accused of Mistreating Kanyinya Residents

By Lorraine Josiane Manishatse

Inhabitants of Kinyinya I hill from Gatumba area in Mutimbuzi commune of the Bujumbura province, denounce the tortures inflicted by members of the ruling party youth wing when conducting night patrols. They criticize local authorities for not taking the problem seriously.

“We are tired of being tortured, the authorities must take the problem seriously,” say inhabitants of Kinyinya I in Gatumba area. They accuse the members of the joint security committee in Kinyinya to mistreat them when conducting night patrols that start from7:30 to 1: am. “It is not even a mixed committee, it is composed only of members of the ruling party’s youth wing ‘Imbonerakure’,” says J.K, a resident of Kinyinya I.

“When we meet them at night they beat us, they tell us to sit in the mud until the end of the patrol,” adds G.S, his neighbor. “One has to pay money to be released,” says S.B., another resident of Kinyinya.

These Kinyinya residents accuse Butoke, the representative of the ruling CNDD-FDD on Kinyinya I Hill, Innocent Harerimana aka Mvubu, Samson aka Kiyoka and another one known as Veterinaire of mistreating them. “They are responsible for these human rights violation. Local authorities can do nothing against them. They are stronger than administration authorities, “the local inhabitants say.

When they arrest people and that the latter try to resist, Butoke, Mvubu and Veterinaire call agents of the National Intelligent Service (SNR) or the police directly and police or SNR vehicles come immediately. “The arrested people are shipped manu militari. They deplore the fact that these Imbonerakure falsely accuse political opponents to settle their accounts. “This area is sensitive because of the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is dangerous for political opponents, “says another inhabitant.

“It no longer happens”

Another inhabitant says Kanyinya residents are forced to pay a monthly contribution asked by local authorities. “Each family must pay Burundian Francs (BIF) 300 to support these joint safety committees,” he says. “If one sells a plot of land for more than BIF one million, he must pay a BIF 5000 contribution. Less than one million, one pays BIF 4000,” says another Kinyinya resident.

These people complain that they do not understand why they have to pay while there are security forces in charge of security. “Why do we pay to people who beat us and steal our goods?” says R.M.

“These contributions are paid by all people from Kinyinya hill. This is to buy them airtimes so they can alert security forces in case of a problem, “says Hussein Ntahetwa, head of the Gatumba area.

Concerning the accusations made against the Imbonerakure, he rejects them. “That does no longer happen,” says Hussein.

He says the members of the joint security committees, who do not behaved appropriately, are punished.

For him, those who make such remarks aim at tarnishing Gatumba image. He calls on Gatumba people to lodge complaints to the police when they are victims of ill-treatment. When interviewed, Butoke did not want to react on these allegations against him.

Fabrice Manirakiza translated by Lorraine Josiane Manishatse

Disabled People Claim Accessibility to Public Buildings

By Diane Uwimana

Following the inaccessibility to health buildings and lack of information related to the health and reproduction domain, people living with disabilities say they face several challenges regarding the access to appropriate treatment. Adelaide Nyigina, chairwoman of the Union of People living with Disabilities in Burundi (U.P.H.B), says some buildings and installations are not appropriate for disabled people. “Buildings with stairs and some installations including delivery rooms- which are not appropriate for pregnant women living with disabilities- constitute major challenges for disabled people,” she says.

She also says the Braille system- for the deaf and dumb constrains the access to the appropriate treatment. “The sender and the receiver of the message do not understand each other easily. There must be an interpreter to facilitate the communication,” she says.

The chairwoman of UPHB urges the government to support more people living with disabilities by popularizing Braille system and taking into account disabled people’s access to some Installations and buildings.

Martin Nivyabandi, Minister of Human Rights says coping with human disability is a worldwide challenge.

According to the UN survey conducted in 2011, people living with disabilities were estimated at between 15 and 20%. “Around 4, 5% of the Burundian population live with disabilities”, he says.

Minister Nivyabandi says the government has taken different initiatives to improve the living conditions of the disabled people. He says the government ratified the Convention on the rights of people living with disabilities and its Optional Protocol in 2014 and built centers for their adoption and reinsertion. “New infrastructures are erected by taking into account disabled people’s access to them,” he says.

Burundi

Youth Met to Work Out Strategies to Fight Poverty and Unemployment

More than 300 young people have gathered in a national youth forum this Monday 9 October 2017 in Bujumbura. Organized by… Read more »

Youth Met to Work Out Strategies to Fight Poverty and Unemployment

By Bella Lucia Nininahazwe

More than 300 young people have gathered in a national youth forum this Monday 9 October 2017 in Bujumbura. Organized by the youth-led organization YouthGlobe, the two-day conference brought together young people from different provinces to adopt strategies so as to combat poverty and unemployment.

Testimonies from successful entrepreneurs, advice from bankers, recommendation from government staff, and guidance from NGO personnel were among others what was on the menu of the forum. The objective of the latter is to wake up the youths and shows them opportunities to reduce poverty and unemployment.

The Youthglobe representative says there are opportunities for young people in Burundi, though the latter do not take advantage of them. He advises the youths to accept to start with small things “You can’t spend the whole day in the bed and argue that there is nothing you can do. Start with a few things you have”, says Museveni Hakizimana, Youthglobe Representative in Burundi.

Isaac MOKAYA MARAGIA, University of Equator Vice Chancellor appeals to the youths to change their way of thinking “I believe young people can do something great. They have enough energy; they should give themselves a challenge to combat poverty and unemployment”

Jean Claude Nduwayo, Director General of Burundi Mine and Quarry Authority (OBM) reminds that the Burundian population is increasing and that youths represent the biggest percentage of the whole population. He demands young people to dare to try and be more creative “All the opportunities are there, you just need to dare and know where to begin”, he says

Joseph MAFARA, Higher Life Foundation Manager says what is needed is just will and capacity. He appeals to the youths to face the challenge with a question in mind “If I could not find a job what will I do?” He advises young people to overcome fear to create something new.

The Youthglobe Director acknowledges that the results of the youth forum are positive as the latter is the fifth edition “There are several testimonies of young people who have initiated something new after the forum. Here, I can mention the initiative of the youths from Makamba southern province, who make soaps, and those from Cibitoke western province,who make porridges and toffeas (meat from soja)”, says Museveni Hakizimana.

The most serious challenge that young people face on their way to entrepreneurship is the lack of support and funds. But for different panellists from different corners, this challenge cannot be taken by youth as an excuse.

Youthglobe is a youth led organisation which operates in Burundi since 2013 and works mainly in education and job creation sectors.

Burundi

Two Resolutions, One Country

At the end of the 36th session of the Human Rights Council, two different resolutions have been adopted for Burundi. An… Read more »

Two Resolutions, One Country

analysisBy Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana

At the end of the 36th session of the Human Rights Council, two different resolutions have been adopted for Burundi. An unprecedented situation.

The two resolutions adopted made waves. First there was this resolution proposed by the African group, a mechanism that was triggered 24 hours before the Geneva resolutions. The African group, supported by Bujumbura, has proposed a mechanism that honors the Burundian justice. Indeed, a commission of three experts will come in the country to back Burundian justice in its investigations. At the end of her work, it will draw up a list of the crimes and the alleged perpetrators. These experts will then report back to the government and it will be up to the Burundian courts to decide.

The mechanism didn’t really go down well with the European Union, which decided to maintain its draft resolution. It therefore put a lighter mechanism to the vote of the Council of Geneva which came back on the main ideas of the report of Fatsah Ouguergouz’s commission: crimes against humanity, targeted sanctions and request for referral to the International Criminal Court. However, the draft resolution put to the vote on 29 September does not go back on anything of the kind. It just mentioned the extension of the mandate of Ouguergouz’s commission for one year. “A relief to win African votes,” explained a European diplomat. It was success for the EU as it was able to rally certain countries that earlier supported Bujumbura. The Commission of Inquiry will therefore have one more year to continue its documentation on human rights violations committed in Burundi. It had already pointed out targeted assassinations, torture, enforced disappearances, rape, and so on. The report points an accusing finger at authorities of the State, particularly the President of the Republic.

The ICC can initiate investigations on its own initiative

A worksite is awaiting the Human Rights Council which will have to set up a new commission of three experts. Then, it will be a question of defining their specifications before sending them to Burundi. At the same time, it will also be a question of sending the other commission, chaired by Fatsah Ouguergouz, to a direction unknown so far, but not in Burundi. “The doors of Burundi will remain closed for him,” said an authority on the spot.

Bujumbura won a battle: the request for referral to the ICC is not mentioned in either of the two resolutions. It still holds its breath and watches the clock turn. It remains two good weeks to see if the ICC is not going to initiate its prosecutions in Burundi. As a reminder, The ICC can act independently of Geneva and start investigations. Burundi announced its withdrawal from the Rome Statute on 27 October 2016. Its effective withdrawal will take place on 27 October.

Reactions

Martin Nivyabandi: “Burundi will not work with Ouguergouz’s commission.”

The Minister for Human Rights assures that in principle, the first resolution adopted implies the removal of the second. According to Martin Nivyabandi, the stubbornness of the European Union made it possible that Burundi has two resolutions. To that end, he assures that the government will collaborate with the resolution proposed by the African group “because it recognizes the sovereignty of the country and the competence of its jurisdictions. A resolution that respects the Burundian people. “On the other hand, Burundi is unlikely to collaborate with the commission of inquiry chaired by Fatsah Ouguergouz. “That commission emanates from an EU resolution that was rejected by Burundi. It has a pre-jurisdictional mission for the ICC, assuming that Burundian justice is unable to do its job, which is unacceptable for Burundi. “

Charles Nditije: “Bujumbura will not cooperate with the 3 experts.”

The president of the opposition platform Cnared deplores the negative solidarity of the African group. It secretly introduced a resolution aimed at blocking the one previously presented by the EU in order to protect the criminal regime of Bujumbura. “Fortunately, the EU resolution was adopted as was the African one. “He assures that Ouguergouz’s commission will continue to investigate further cases and demonstrate once again to the world that Bujumbura regime is responsible for crimes against humanity. At the same time, the other commission will realize that its initiators have been deceived greatly because Bujumbura regime will not cooperate and allow these experts to know the truth about the gravity and extent of its crimes. “We are pleased that there is no link between the work of the two commissions and that of the ICC which can decide at any time to initiate an investigation.” He very much hopes that this inquiry will be opened before 27 October.

Pacifique Nininahazwe: “The EU resolution is more important because of its prestige and independence.”

The human rights activist welcomes the adoption of the two resolutions on Burundi. The first resolution would have been too weak if there were not the second one proposed by the EU. This weakness resides in the fact that it has too much confidence in this sudden and surprising will of the Burundian authorities to cooperate. According to Pacifique Nininahazwe, the second resolution is the most important because of its prestige and independence. The second mechanism will now be reinforced by the first with the presence of experts on the ground, if the collaboration with the authorities is maintained. “I hope that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will better articulate the two mechanisms.” He asserts that the two resolutions are putting pressure on Bujumbura. But it lacks on the side of the Security Counci,l measures to protect the Burundian people. “Furthermore, we are waiting for the ICC to initiate the investigation in order to punish perpetrators of despicable crimes. “Unfortunately we continue to witness two sides of the UN: That of the human rights council which is active and notes the crimes in Burundi, and that of the Security Council which continues to witness the scenes of the killing of Burundians instead of protecting them.

Pierre Claver Kazihise: “The resolution of the African group is the most important.”

The coordinator of the Civil Society Citizenship (Socic) says it is strange that two resolutions have been adopted.

However, what is important is that there should be a resolution supported by the Burundian government. For Pierre Claver Kazihise, the resolution proposed by the African group will prevail over the other. He believes that sending the three experts on the Burundian soil to investigate with the authorities on the ground will allow a clear improvement in the human rights situation in Burundi. Unlike the commission chaired by Ouguergouz, which is the result of the EU approach, “which has rather dubious objectives that will lead to nothing.”

Analysis

Bujumbura at the post-truth time

The African resolution calls for three experts to be sent to Burundi to “cooperate with the Burundian authorities.” Objective: “To establish the truth and ensure that perpetrators of deplorable crimes are brought before the judicial authorities of Burundi.”

The 23 votes in favor preferred to turn a blind eye – by “African solidarity” – while the experts of the Commission of Inquiry into Burundi had mentioned “the lack of will of the Burundian authorities to fight impunity” and “the lack of independence of national justice”, hence their recommendation to the ICC to investigate crimes against humanity in Burundi.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Council has adopted a weak resolution that does not reflect the gravity of the situation,” said the representative of the NGO Human Rights Watch in Geneva, John Fisher, on Thursday (September 28th). He stressed, however, that these three new experts could collaborate with the Commission of Inquiry if its mandate is renewed the following day. But what about their room for maneuver? Will this new UN mission add value to the Ouguergouz I and II report?

A complement under close scrutiny

At the announcement of its adoption, Bujumbura rubbed its hands, already anticipating a final report painting a non-overwhelming picture of the human rights situation. If the Government of Nkurunziza cooperates in the collection of information and determination of the facts relating to human rights violations, how to guarantee unrestricted access to the alleged victims, or to prevent the discrediting of this new UN mission to Burundi? Should this happen, how to create the conditions for liberation speech for those who incriminate elements of the defense and security forces or Imbonerakure? Especially if the experts are perceived as servants on duty – on behalf of “David” this time.

In view of the jubilant reaction of the chief of the presidential communication, Willy Nyamitwe, on Twitter, Bujumbura enters the post-truth. The important thing for “David” is not that what is said about human rights situation is true, but rather that it be believed.

Written by Agnès Ndirubusa and Guibert Mbonimpa. Translated by Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana

Gakara Mining Project Lacks Transparency, Say Activists

By Bella Lucia Nininahazwe

Rainbow Rare Earths has recently launched a mining project in Gakara commune in Bujumbura province. Different activists say there is opacity all around this mining project but Rainbow Burundi Mining (RBM) refutes the accusations.

In a press conference held this 6 October 2017, Gilbert Midende, RBM Director, says nothing is hidden in the contract with Burundi government about Gakara Mining Project.

Midende says the contract is available and public to whoever needs to see it. “According to the International Convention in its 88 article, it has to be published on the company w

Burundi

Low Funding Hampers Protection of Burundi Refugees

Lack of funding has hampered reception of refugees and the quality of protection offered by host countries, the United… Read more »

Lake Tanganyika Protection is Everyone’s Duty, Says Second Deputy President

By Bella Lucia Nininahazwe

The issue of Lake Tanganyika pollution has been raised by different MPs when the Second Deputy President was presenting achievements of the ministries for which he is responsible for the past six months in the National Assembly. Joseph Butore says everyone should be involved in lakes’ protection.

Agathon Rwasa, First Deputy-Speaker of the National Assembly says Tanganyika Lake is a resource to be protected as it is a source of life for many. He regrets its situation today: “Tanganyika Lake is a valuable source of life for us and the next generations. However, plastic and other polluting waste threaten it,” says Rwasa.

Réverien Ndikuriyo, speaker of the senate, says it is regrettable to see people who keep on constructing alongside the river in violation of regulations. He suggests that there should be a plan to delimit the lake area by building a road in order to prevent such construction activities.

Joseph Butore, Second Deputy President, says there are rules-but which can’t be applied without the local administration and population involvement. “There are rules but they remain theoretical if the administration and most of all population do not understand the importance of protecting the lake.”

Butore insists that sensitization is the best way to ensure the protection of Lake Tanganyika. “If they don’t understand that it is their responsibility to protect it, we can’t make it” he says. He adds that punishment cannot resolve the problem for good. “We can go there and punish those who violate the rules but they will be the ones to throw plastic waste into the lake, extract the sand during the night,… “

He appeals to MPs to be involved and help to sensitize the population to the advantage of Lake Tanganyika protection.

“The executive can’t handle it alone. You are close to the population, you meet on different occasions, they voted for you, you share the same political parties… go and let them understand that it is also their responsibility to protect not only Lake Tanganyika but also all the lakes.”

However, the Second Vice President recognises that Lake Tanganyika is also polluted by waste from factories. He says the issue of SETEMU (Municipal Technical Services) pumps, which are non-functional, is now among government’s priorities.

Burundi

Gihungwe Residents Demand Compensation for Exploitation of Quarries

About 54 families from Gihungwe locality in Gihanga commune of Bubanza western province, owners of quarries where small… Read more »

Gihungwe Residents Demand Compensation for Exploitation of Quarries

By Diane Uwimana

About 54 families from Gihungwe locality in Gihanga commune of Bubanza western province, owners of quarries where small stones are extracted to extend the national road no5-(Bujumbura-Cibitoke) have staged a sit-in this 5 October on the extraction site. They prevented the truck drivers from digging their lands because they have not received their compensation.

“The office in charge of roads promised to equally grant us compensation in vain. The deadline was set yesterday”, says a mother of ten children met on the ground. She says those who hired fields only received compensation for the damage caused by the trucks. “We do not understand why the land owners did not receive any compensation as the lands were their source of revenue”, says a sixty-old man met in Gihungwe locality.

Ernest Ntirabampa, resident and representative of those families says the office in charge of roads and residents have agreed that the lands should be returned to the owners after the extraction. He, however, says there was not any signed document of the agreement contract. “Not only, are we claiming compensation, but also, there isn’t any contract that linked the company that exploited the quarries and their owners,” says Ntirabampa. He says the compensation should be used to hire other fields while they are digging the quarries. “We are waiting for the fixed appointment, if nothing is done till 9 October, the activities of exploiting the quarries will be suspended”, he says.

Léopold Ndayisaba, Administrator of Gihanga Commune says the residents and the agents of the Road office have agreed to meet on Monday, 9 October. “We think we will arrive at a good solution”, he says.

Burundi

Burundi Refugees Stranded in Raging Congolese Combat

INCESSANT clashes between armed groups and government forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have delayed the… Read more »

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