Burundi: Recent UN Statements, 12/28/'95

Burundi: Recent UN Statements, 12/28/'95

Burundi: Recent UN Statements
Date Distributed (ymd): 960105

HR/4263 28 December 1995

Testimony Appears To Indicate Smoldering Civil War May Be Spreading in Burundi

The Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights mandated to examine the human rights situation in Burundi, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, in his initial report, emphasizes that, according to evidence provided to him, a smoldering civil war was spreading further and further in Burundi. The situation had in particular deteriorated since the beginning of the year, and significantly so since May. The general climate of insecurity, fear and hatred affected all segments of the population, both Hutus and Tutsis, and had led to a renewed breakout of violence committed by extremists on both sides, leading to the death of soldiers and many civilians each week.

Aggression, assassination and massacres, torture or arbitrary detention were the daily lot of the Burundi people. The Special Rapporteur noted, among other things, that complete impunity was still enjoyed in Burundi. The insecurity and grave violations of human rights were increasing constantly throughout the country.

According to Mr. Pinheiro, the ethnic tension between Hutu and Tutsi was reflected in the Government, in which the number of cases of blockage between the two ethnic groups had increased. This accentuated the lack of effectiveness at all levels of State activity, whether it was a question of maintenance of security and order in the country, the administration of justice, the functioning of the army or the police forces, the economic management of the country or the conducting of education at all levels, from primary to university.

In the view of the Special Rapporteur, this state of affairs was also due to the inertia -- even complicity -- on the part of broad segments of the ruling classes in Burundi, the criminal responsibility of extremist groups of all ethnic origins, as well as the slow international response to the need to aid the country's moderate political forces to overcome the crises.

Despite its recognition of the horrors committed in the country, particularly after the events of October 1993, the international community continued to demonstrate a profound indifference and a grave inability to act in a concrete and effective manner, according to the Special Rapporteur. Burundi's institutions were deteriorating and arms were being smuggled into the interior of the country as in the border regions. Also, certain media, in Burundi as well as in the neighbouring countries, were transmitting unrelenting messages of hatred aimed at destabilizing the country. By its attitude of omission, the international community had, for the greater part, allowed the development of the extremism raging in Burundi. It had also contributed to the progressive deterioration of the country's socio-economic infrastructures, rendering economic survival more and more difficult.

In the opinion of the Special Rapporteur, the converging political and social factors underlined a real danger that the deteriorating situation could explode any time in the country, with consequences as grave as those seen previously in Rwanda. In this regard, the tensions provoked by the refugees or displaced and dispersed persons and the "ethnic cleansing" operations frequently could result in the concentration of the Tutsi population in the urban zones and the forced migration of the Hutus to the rural areas.

Among his recommendations, the Special Rapporteur stresses that the administration of justice must be reformed as a matter of urgency to combat impunity, possibly through the assistance of magistrates from other African countries. He further recommends that measures be adopted to combat insecurity in the country, particularly by creating a national rapid alert mechanism which could prevent violence from degenerating into massacre or genocide. Also, measures must be taken to reinforce the civil society of Burundi by supporting the efforts of local non-governmental organizations.

Appropriate assistance had to be allocated to the development of the media, particularly by training journalists in accordance with the ethics of the profession. The Special Rapporteur requested the strengthening of the United Nations human rights office at Bujumbura and the acceleration of the process of deployment of human rights observers in Burundi, as provided by resolution 1995/90 of the Commission on Human Rights. The Rapporteur stressed the necessity to set up a close coordination between the three Special Rapporteurs of the Commission on Rwanda, Zaire and Burundi.

Mr. Pinheiro was appointed Special Rapporteur last April, in conformity with resolution 1995/90 of the Commission on Human Rights.

S/1995/1068 29 December 1995



I have the honour to refer to the statement by the President of the Security Council of 9 March 1995 (S/PRST/1995/10) requesting me to continue to keep the Security Council fully informed of developments in Burundi. In this connection, I should like to share with you my deep concern about the persistence of violence and the further escalation of human rights violations communicated to me in recent reports from the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Office of my Special Representative in Bujumbura and other sources.

At the end of June 1995, the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the human rights situation in Burundi, Mr. Paolo Sergio Pinheiro, undertook a visit to the country. According to his report, Burundi is the scene of a smouldering civil war. The situation has continued to deteriorate since May 1995 and is characterized by daily killings, massacres, torture and arbitrary detention. The human rights situation "reveals an increasingly marked genocidal trend of a socio-ethnic nature" and perpetrators are still enjoying impunity.

In the light of his findings, the Special Rapporteur puts forward a number of recommendations ranging from the consolidation of democratic institutions and the reform of the judicial system to the establishment of a national police force accepted by both communities and the deployment of human rights observers.

The deteriorating situation is underscored by recent decisions of international organizations including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the World Food Programme and most non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to curtail or suspend their activities in Burundi following a spate of violent attacks against their personnel and assets. Furthermore, Burundi's borders with Zaire and the United Republic of Tanzania have remained closed for several days. There are also recent reports of a crowd numbering several thousand gathering in the vicinity of the Presidential Palace in the capital.

In the existing circumstances, I fear there is a real danger of the situation in Burundi degenerating to the point where it might explode into ethnic violence on a massive scale. In view of the extremely grave consequences of such an explosion, I should like to recall once more the proposals I made to the Security Council on 19 August 1994 and repeated in my report of 11 October 1994 (S/1994/1152).

In particular, I suggested the maintenance in Zaire, subject to the agreement of the Zairian Government, of a military presence capable of intervening rapidly in the event of a sudden deterioration of the situation in Burundi, a preventive measure that could help to avoid a repetition of the tragic events in Rwanda. My proposals also included the deployment of a contingent of guards, similar to those sent to Iraq, to protect the humanitarian organization teams; and the deployment of human rights observers as recommended by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur and several other missions that visited Burundi.

In view of the worsening situation, the Security Council may now wish to give renewed consideration to my proposals for preventive deployment of military personnel and guards. As for the deployment of human rights observers, I regret to inform you that the High Commissioner for Human Rights has not yet been in a position to secure the necessary funds for this purpose despite numerous and repeated appeals to potential donor Governments.

In view of the seriousness of the situation, I have asked the High Commissioner for Refugees, Ms. Sadako Ogata, to travel immediately to Bujumbura as my personal envoy in order to discuss with the government authorities, at the highest level, steps that might be taken on an urgent basis to defuse the situation and enable international organizations to function effectively. I shall inform the Security Council about the outcome of Ms. Ogata's mission as soon as possible.

Finally, I should like to confirm that my new Special Representative for Burundi, Mr. Marc Faguy, left for Bujumbura on 28 December 1995 and will assume his functions there with immediate effect, upon his arrival on 30 December 1995.

(Signed) Boutros BOUTROS-GHALI


UN Press Release DH/2054

The Security Council today condemned in the strongest terms those responsible for the daily killings, massacres, torture and arbitrary detention in Burundi and said they must cease immediately. In a statement read by its President, Sir John Weston (United Kingdom), the Council encouraged all States to take measures necessary to prevent such persons from travelling abroad and receiving any kind of support. It shared the deep concern of Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali at the situation in the country and called on all concerned in Burundi to exercise maximum restraint and to refrain from all acts of violence.

The Council reiterated that all those who committed or authorized the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law were individually responsible and should be held accountable. It stressed the importance of the International Commission of Inquiry. The Council also reiterated its profound concern about radio stations which incited hatred and acts of genocide and encouraged Member States and others to cooperate in their identification and dismantling.

Expressing grave concern at recent attacks on international humanitarian personnel, the Council said such actions had led to the suspension of essential assistance to refugees and displaced persons and the temporary withdrawal of personnel. It underlined that the Government of Burundi was responsible for the security of international personnel, refugees and displaced persons there and called on it to provide security for food convoys and the humanitarian workers.

The Council welcomed the Secretary-General's decision to ask the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Sadako Ogata to discuss with Burundi officials, steps which might be taken to defuse the situation and said it would consider his proposal for a deployment of guards in light of Mrs. Ogata's mission and reports reaching him from the field. It asked him to consider what role UN personnel in the region and other support personnel might play in Burundi.

Stressing the importance of continued attention by the international community as a whole to the situation, the Council encouraged Member States to intensify contacts and visits. It reaffirmed its support for the Convention of Government of 10 September 1994 -- the institutional framework for national reconciliation -- and again called on all parties, military forces and elements of civil society to fully respect and implement it.

Message-Id: From: "APIC" Date: Fri, 5 Jan 1996 22:28:55 +0000 Subject: Burundi: Recent UN Statements