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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW OUTCOMES OF BOTSWANA, BAHAMAS AND BURUNDI

28 June 2018

The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Botswana, Bahamas and Burundi. 

Athaliah Lesiba Molokomme, Permanent Representative of Botswana to the United Nations Office at Geneva, noted that Botswana had accepted all recommendations on extending a standing invitation to all mandate holders of the Human Rights Council, and had never declined a request for a country visit.  Botswana had accepted the recommendation on the ratification of the Convention on Genocide, and almost all recommendations on women and children.  On the other hand, it had not accepted any of the recommendations calling for a moratorium on, or abolition of, the death penalty, its position being that the death penalty was a criminal justice matter defined by sovereign States. 

In the ensuing discussion, speakers commended Botswana’s open and constructive engagement with all stakeholders.  It was noteworthy that the Government of Botswana continued to implement initiatives aimed at improving the lives of all citizens.  Those included poverty reduction and empowerment schemes for the most marginalized groups, such as youth, women and persons with disabilities.  At the same time, they invited Botswana to reconsider the recommendations to introduce a moratorium on the death penalty, on aligning the law on nationality with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to address intimidation of journalists by the authorities.

Speaking were Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations Development Programme, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Belgium, and Chad.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Center for Global Nonkilling; Amnesty International; Federatie Van Netherlandse Verenigingen Tot Integratie Van Homoseksualiteit - Coc Nederland (in a joint statement with International Lesbian and Gay Association); Action Canada for Population and Development and Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme.

The Vice President of the Human Rights Council said that out of 207 recommendations, Botswana accepted 93 and noted 114.  The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Botswana.
 
Frank Davis, Minister Counsellor and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Bahamas to the United Nation Office at Geneva, explained that the correctional system in the Bahamas had diverted from a penal to a correctional approach, in line with international standards.  A committee to review citizenship applications to address issues associated with statelessness had been set up, while a 2014 policy provided for all children up to 18 years of age to obtain a “belonger’s permit”.  Funding was increased for assistance to victims of trafficking in persons, and measures were in place to address labour trafficking offenses.  As for the death penalty, the imposition of that sentence on a discretionary basis was lawful for crimes of murder or treason.

In the discussion, speakers welcomed the engagement of the Bahamas with the Universal Periodic Review and its acceptance of the recommendation to ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  They expressed hope that the Government would take further measures to promote sustainable economic development, and strengthen the health sector.  Additionally, they warned that the conditions in the nation’s prisons were inhumane, and that a large number of migrants were being held in poor conditions. 

Speaking were Afghanistan, Belgium, China, Cuba, Haiti, Honduras, and Chile.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: United Villages; Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative; United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation and Africa Culture International.

The Vice President of the Human Rights Council said that out of 141 recommendations, the Bahamas accepted 78, noted 57 and provided additional clarifications on four recommendations.  The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of the Bahamas.

Marie-Ancile Ntakaburimvo, Legal Attaché, Permanent Mission of Burundi to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Burundi had just written a new page in its history by organising a referendum in a calm environment, and as of June 7, had a new Fundamental Law better tailored to the current socio-political context, whose objective was to provide long-lasting stability and social cohesion, and was in the spirit of the Arusha Agreement.  Burundi did not intend to take a step back, but was firmly on a path to reconciliation and sustainable development, while the 2020 elections would express the desire of the people to take their fate in their hands.  The Universal Periodic Review provided space for dialogue but it was regrettable that some experts in the United Nations portrayed the situation in Burundi as apocalyptical.  The Council should not listen to such politically biased and motivated statements which did not serve human rights but weakened and discretised the Council.

In the discussion, speakers welcomed Burundi’s legislating to prevent trafficking in persons and gender-based violence, and the setting up of gender units in various ministries and of new centres at hospitals to counter gender-based violence.  Delegations acknowledged Burundi’s efforts to step up the training of judges and police officers to prevent torture.  Other speakers underlined that the severe nature of the human rights violations and abuses in the country, coupled with the refusal to cooperate, rendered Burundi unfit for membership in the Council.  The recommendations by Member States were useless given the lack of implementation by the Government, and the deafness and blindness of the authorities.

Speaking were Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Venezuela, Afghanistan, and Angola.  

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Amnesty International; International Lesbian and Gay Association; Article 19 - The International Centre against Censorship; East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project; International Federation for Human Rights Leagues; International Service for Human Rights; CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation; United Nations Watch and Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme.

The Vice President of the Human Rights Council said that out of 242 recommendations, Burundi accepted 125 and noted 117.

The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Burundi.


The next meeting of the Council will be at 9 a.m. on Friday, 29 June, when it will consider the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Luxembourg, Barbados, Montenegro, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Liechtenstein, and Serbia, and hold a general debate on the Universal Periodic Review.


Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Botswana

ATHALIAH LESIBA MOLOKOMME, Permanent Representative of Botswana to the United Nations Office at Geneva, informed that out of 207 received recommendations, Botswana had deferred 76 for further consideration, while it had accepted 93.  Ms. Molokomme stressed that Botswana had accepted all recommendations on extending a standing invitation to all mandate holders of the Human Rights Council, and that it had never declined a request for a country visit.  Having accepted the recommendation to ratify the Convention on Genocide, Botswana had begun internal consultations in that respect, and had also decided to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Ambassador Molokomme said that none of the recommendations calling for a moratorium on, or the abolition of, the death penalty, had been accepted, because Botswana considered the death penalty to be a criminal justice matter, defined by sovereign States.  The death penalty was only applied after a fair trial, and due process of law administered by an independent judicial system.

Considering the particular vulnerability of women and children, and their need for special attention, almost all recommendations in this regard had been accepted, said the Ambassador, informing the Council that a response plan to the important problem of sexual abuse of children would be finalized and disseminated by September 2018.  Furthermore, Botswana was reviewing its definition of the child, and had lifted the reservations to article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to article 2 of the African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of the Child.  In the field of health, the country was preparing to embark on the fifth Botswana AIDS Impact Survey, to be rolled out in September 2018.  Great strides were being made in fighting trafficking in persons, and Botswana was expecting to officially launch the National Anti-Trafficking Action Plan before the end of 2018.

Senegal thanked Botswana for the updated information provided and welcomed the decision to adopt its eleventh National Development Plan in 2016, drafted to ensure that economic development of the country was consistent with the objectives of the Vision 2036.  Senegal congratulated Botswana for accepting recommendations, including those of Senegal.

South Africa congratulated Botswana on a successful outcome of the Universal Periodic Review, and said that important milestones in the country included the launching of the Vision 2036 and its National Development Plan.  South Africa also took positive note of the progress achieved in improving the lives of people in remote communities under the Affirmative Action Framework for Remote Area Communities.

Sudan congratulated Botswana on accepting recommendations and on a successful outcome of the Universal Periodic Review.  Every success was wished to the delegation in implementing recommendations.  The Council was asked to adopt the outcome.

United Nations Children’s Fund welcomed the acceptance of the recommendation to establish a monitoring mechanism for child abuse and to take steps to end child sexual abuse, and expressed regret that Botswana was not ready to accede to the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness or to ratify the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Convention against Discrimination in Education.  The United Nations Children’s Fund noted the reluctance in amending the Children’s Act to criminalize the worst forms of child labour and to include a definition of child trafficking.

United Nations Development Programme welcomed the commitment to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the acceptance of the recommendation to extend a standing invitation to Special Procedures mandate holders.  However, there was absence of legal aid for vulnerable people on most criminal matters, and limited progress had been made in establishing a national human rights institution compliant with the Paris Principles.

Venezuela welcomed the implementation of the poverty reduction initiative, and the actions to improve the quality of education for children, and took positive note of the Affirmative Action Framework for Remote Area Communities.  Venezuela wished Botswana every success in the implementation of recommendations.

Zambia welcomed the friendly delegation of Botswana and applauded the dedication exhibited in the work of the Council and other mechanisms in the promotion of human rights.  Zambia urged the Human Rights Council to adopt the report on Botswana.

Zimbabwe commended Botswana’s open and constructive engagement with all stakeholders.  It was noteworthy that Botswana continued to implement initiatives aimed at improving the lives of all citizens.  Those included poverty reduction and empowerment schemes for the most marginalized groups, such as youth, women and persons with disabilities.

Afghanistan urged Botswana to consider the full incorporation in national law of the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Algeria noted with satisfaction Botswana’s advances in the implementation of policies aimed at poverty reduction and development, while recognizing the rights of local populations in managing natural resources. 

Angola encouraged Botswana to continue promoting measures to reduce the HIV prevalence which unfortunately undermined the socio-economic development of the country, and wished Botswana success in the implementation of the accepted recommendations.

Belgium reiterated its appreciation for Botswana’s efforts in the implementation of the recommendations accepted during the previous Universal Periodic Review cycle and was pleased that Botswana had accepted Belgium’s recommendations to train police officers in addressing gender-based violence.  Belgium urged Botswana to reconsider its position on introducing a moratorium on executions, and on aligning the law on nationality with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Chad welcomed the delegation of Botswana and praised the fact that they had accepted the majority of the recommendations.  Chad urged the international community to assist Botswana in the implementation of the recommendations.

Centre for Global Nonkilling noted that in the last two cycles of its Universal Periodic Review, Botswana had accepted to hold a public debate on the death penalty, and urged Botswana to revise its position and become true promoter of the right to life.

Amnesty International welcomed the acceptance of the recommendations to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, establish a national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles, and to combat all forms of discrimination, especially against women.  However, Botswana had rejected the majority of those recommendations which were related to serious human rights violations, including on the freedom of expression, the ratification of the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, and the 19 recommendations to introduce a moratorium on executions with a view of abolishing the death penalty.

Federatie Van Netherlandse Verenigingen Tot Integratie Van Homoseksualiteit - Coc Nederland in a joint statement with International Lesbian and Gay Association noted that Botswana had received 15 recommendations relating to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, and the ongoing consultations to reform national policies to address discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  In line with its national commitments, Botswana was urged to revise the penal code and ensure legal gender recognition.

Action Canada for Population and Development welcomed Botswana’s standing invitation to all Special Procedure mandate holders, but remained concerned by its unwillingness to put in place guarantees for civil society participation.  It was encouraging that Botswana would not further restrict access to safe and legal abortion. 

Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme appreciated the continued efforts in economic development and empowerment, which highlighted access to quality education, especially for women and girls, as a key to poverty eradication.  Botswana was urged to strengthen the rights of women, and ensure legal protection for victims of gender-based violence.

The Vice President of the Human Rights Council said that out of 207 recommendations, Botswana accepted 93 and noted 114.

ATHALIAH LESIBA MOLOKOMME, Permanent Representative of Botswana to the United Nations Office at Geneva, appreciated the offer by the United Nations Children’s Fund of continued cooperation to improve the rights of the child, and explained that Botswana’s new Legal Aid Act was only six years old.  The Government hoped that, with the passage of time, legal aid would be provided to the poorest people.  The establishment of a national human rights institution was work in progress, said the Ambassador, noting that the process of incorporation of international instruments was sometimes lengthy due to the need to set up adequate institutions.  Botswana’s police officers had already undergone a fair amount of sensitization on gender-based violence, she said, adding that the allegations of harassment of journalists had not been proven in a court of law.  Botswana continued to work on achieving gender equality, reassured the Ambassador, and stressed that the country would strive to address all the observations on its report through the implementation of its recommendations, and the submission of a midterm report.

The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Botswana.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of the Bahamas

FRANK DAVIS, Minister Counsellor and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Bahamas to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the correctional system in the Bahamas had diverted from a penal to a correctional approach, in line with international standards, and said that the country was reviewing options on how to improve correctional facilities, while the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners (“the Bangkok Rules”) on the treatment of women prisoners had been incorporated into national legislation.  A committee to review citizenship applications to address issues associated with statelessness had been set up, while a 2014 policy provided for all children up to 18 years of age to obtain a “belonger’s permit”.

The Bahamas was a transit country for trafficking in persons due to its geographic location, said Mr. Davis, adding that, despite many challenges, the Bahamas continued to maintain a Tier 1 ranking for the third year in the Trafficking in Persons report released by the United States.  Funding was increased for victim assistance and measures were in place to address labour trafficking offenses.  The Government continued undertaking awareness raising campaigns on human trafficking to inform potential victims of their rights and available support.  The Department of Labour raised awareness in the business community and screened for indicators of human trafficking during labour site inspections.

The Bahamas had accepted recommendations relating to gender equality, domestic violence, children, detention conditions and the national human rights institution, among others, said Mr. Davis, who was pleased to inform the Council that the Bahamas had ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment earlier this year.  The Bahamas was aware that the elimination of discrimination was a slow process that required public awareness and education efforts, and it had accepted two recommendations that dealt directly with gender discrimination.  Efforts were under way to provide assistance to victims of domestic violence, while the Office of the Ombudsman had been created to provide an avenue of relief whenever people had legitimate grievances with the Government.

Mr. Davis explained that the Bahamas could not support recommendations on particular issues, including the death penalty, corporal punishment, and issues of sexual orientation.  While the imposition of the death penalty on a discretionary basis was lawful for crimes of murder or treason, no executions had taken place in 12 years.  Strict procedures were in place to ensure corporal punishment was only used as a last resort to positively modify the behaviour of children, he said.  He also noted that the Attorney General had met with groups representing gay, lesbian and transgender citizens to hear their concerns.  In conclusion, Mr. Davis reiterated that the role of the Government was to ensure that, with the support of the international community, the mechanisms were put in place to allow every man, woman and child to develop their God-given potential.

Afghanistan appreciated that the Bahamas had accepted its recommendation to ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Belgium welcomed the intention of the Bahamas to ratify the Convention against Torture, and noted that the recommendation to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights had not been accepted.  Belgium also noted the consideration by the Bahamas of the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

China commended the constructive engagement of the Bahamas with the Universal Periodic Review, and expressed hope that the Government would take further measures to promote sustainable economic development, and further strengthen the health sector.

Cuba recognized the broad consultations held by the Bahamas in the framework of its Universal Periodic Review, and its fastidious evaluation of each of the recommendations. 

Haiti thanked the Bahamas for having considered its recommendations on the follow-up to the recommendations, on climate change, and on a simplified procedure for the naturalization of foreign children born in the Bahamas.  Haiti regretted that the Bahamas had rejected the recommendation to ratify the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. 

Honduras encouraged the Bahamas to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, modify the law on persons with disabilities, and review legislation on alternative measures with respect to deprivation of liberty in the context of migration.

Chile appreciated the Bahamas’ efforts to enhance measures to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, namely the ratification of the Convention against Torture.  Chile urged the Bahamas to continue with the implementation of international instruments.   

United Villages noted that there had been peaceful transition of power in the Bahamas.  It was highly commendable that the Government participated in a wide range of international institutions to contribute to the development of international standards on human rights.  The Bahamas worked hard to develop a comprehensive approach to migration issues.
 
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative took note of the recommendations concerning the improvement of the conditions of detention in the Bahamas, and said that the conditions in the nation’s prisons were inhumane.  The Government must address overcrowding and the high rates of crime in prisons.  A large number of migrants were being held in poor conditions. 

United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation said sovereignty was a fundamental right but the Bahamas was only using the principle as a tool for discrimination.  Authorities had stepped up arrests and incarceration of migrants.  Children were not being spared from the plight and lived in fear of arrest.  The Bahamas must protect children regardless of their place of origin and migration status.

Africa Culture International congratulated the Bahamas for the substantial development of its infrastructure, and the ongoing efforts to improve the functioning of the judicial system.  Regulations had been established to promote the rights and protection of children.  The Bahamas was respecting its international obligations in the field of human rights.

The Vice President of the Human Rights Council said that out of 141 recommendations, the Bahamas accepted 78, noted 57 and provided additional clarifications on four recommendations.

FRANK DAVIS, Minister Counsellor and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Bahamas to the United Nation Office at Geneva, said that most of the issues were addressed by States during the discussion, and then thanked all States for their comments and noted the efforts of the troika in particular.  Mr. Davis reiterated the commitment of the Bahamas to the Universal Periodic Review process, and to working jointly with civil society to ensure human rights of all individuals indiscriminately.

The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of the Bahamas.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Burundi

MARIE-ANCILE NTAKABURIMVO, Legal Attaché, Permanent Mission of Burundi to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that this session was taking place at a moment when Burundi had just written a new page in its history by organising a referendum in a calm environment, providing equal chances and opportunities to all participants on both sides.  As of June 7, Burundi now had a new Fundamental Law better tailored to the current socio-political context, whose objective was to provide long-lasting stability and social cohesion, and was in the spirit of the Arusha Agreement.  Burundi did not intend to take a step back, said Ms. Ntakaburimvo, and was firmly on a path to reconciliation and sustainable development, while the 2020 elections would express the desire of the people to take their fate in their hands.  The second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of Burundi in January 2018 was an opportunity to listen to recommendations made by friends who provided relevant inputs on how to address human rights concerns.  Some States had tried to help and some did not have trustworthy information about the current situation in Burundi.  Burundi had given great attention to this process, during which it had received 242 recommendations presented by 96 delegations; of those, Burundi had accepted 125 and noted 117.  Ms. Ntakaburimvo reiterated the commitment of the Government of Burundi to implement the accepted recommendations with the support of its international partners, and acknowledged the efforts of the Working Group, the Secretariat, and the troika. 

The Universal Periodic Review provided space for dialogue but it was regrettable that some experts in the United Nations portrayed the situation in Burundi as apocalyptical.  There was a manipulation campaign using false allegation, said Ms. Ntakaburimvo, asking what right the Commission of Inquiry had to do this?  The Council should not listen to such politically biased and motivated statements which did not serve human rights but weakened and discredited the Council.  Burundi lamented that some delegations, using false information, had claimed that Burundi had refused to cooperate with the United Nations human rights mechanisms, such as the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council.  People whose visas were revoked were experts, coming as part of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights establishment in Burundi.  The High Commissioner for Human Rights had asked Burundi to grant them visas for a short term stay, without any additional information, and without mentioning the Council’s resolution 36/2.  Burundi had displayed good will, but once in the country, those individuals had changed their mission, which was why their visas had been revoked.  Burundi was fully committed to the resolution 36/2 and was still waiting for the good offices of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to show mutual respect for the standards of cooperation, said Ms. Ntakaburimvo, and urged the Council to adopt with consensus the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of her country.

Egypt commended the positive spirit shown by Burundi during the Universal Periodic Review process.  Egypt welcomed judicial reforms related to human rights and called on Burundi to increase cooperation with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and combat violence against women. 
 
Ethiopia commended Burundi for accepting its recommendation on promoting girls’ education by abolishing school fees in basic education, and for its continued efforts to reintegrate disaster victims by putting in place a national reintegration strategy.

Haiti thanked Burundi for taking into account its recommendation related to the reduction of malnutrition in the country, and urged Burundi to work for peace, justice, and reconciliation.
 
Honduras said Burundi had given due attention to its recommendations on the death penalty and the rights of all migrant workers and their families.  However, Burundi must reconsider its position concerning the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and enhance cooperation with United Nations mechanisms.

Pakistan welcomed steps taken by Burundi to empower women and noted that the Government had displayed the political will to end gender-based violence.  Pakistan urged the Council to adopt the outcome by consensus.

Senegal commended Burundi’s engagement in the Universal Periodic Review, and for the support it had given to most of the recommendations.  Senegal wished Burundi every success in their implementation.

South Africa welcomed Burundi’s legislating to prevent trafficking in persons and gender-based violence, and also welcomed the setting up of gender units in various ministries and of new centres at hospitals to counter gender-based violence.  South Africa acknowledged Burundi’s efforts to step up the training of judges and police officers to prevent torture. 

Sri Lanka said that it was encouraging that Burundi had accepted 125 out of 242 recommendations, and took positive note of Burundi’s efforts to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Sri Lanka also appreciated the efforts to eliminate discrimination against girls in education.

Sudan appreciated the efforts of Burundi to protect and promote human rights, and welcomed its acceptance of the recommendations on the establishment of a commission on truth and reconciliation, and on training of judges and law enforcement officers.

Tanzania applauded the progress made since the last Universal Periodic Review and continued to call on all parties in Burundi to spare no effort in support of the peace process.  Tanzania commended the acceptance of most of the recommendations, the holding of a referendum on a new Constitution, the pursuit of clear legislative reforms, and ensuring that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was operational.  Burundi was facilitating a planned repatriation and settlement of the Burundian refugees from refugee camps in Tanzania in a voluntary manner.

Venezuela congratulated Burundi for its cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review, and acknowledged the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, and the ratification of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  Venezuela further commended the establishment of centres to provide care and protection to victims of violence.

Afghanistan welcomed the delegation, stating that the Universal Periodic Review was the best platform for all States to get engaged with the international human rights mechanisms and meet their obligations. 

Angola welcomed the delegation of Burundi and encouraged the measures in the promotion of human rights, taking into account the specific situation the country was facing.

Amnesty International said that Burundi must guarantee freedom of expression and provide safe spaces for civil society organizations, and regretted that, unfortunately, Burundi had not accepted the necessary practical recommendations to tackle the human rights issues in the country.  The Government must go beyond rhetoric and take real action.

International Lesbian and Gay Association was deeply disappointed that the new penal code in Burundi had not prohibited discrimination based on gender and sexual identity.  Despite the progress in ending gender-based violence, not enough was being done to end the stigmatisation of victims.  Burundi did not guarantee the freedom of association of sexual minority groups.
 
Article 19-International Centre against Censorship said that gross violations of the freedom of expression continued in Burundi.  The Universal Periodic Review process relied on the cooperation of involved parties and the recognition of human rights violations in the country.  Laws in Burundi did not comply with international obligations and were choking the democratic space.

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project regretted the lack of willingness shown by the Government to ratify key international instruments on cultural rights and enforced disappearances.  The Government was evading responsibility for human rights abuses.  The rejection of recommendations linked to combatting impunity was particularly worrisome.  Reprisals against human rights defenders were condemned.

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues said that Burundi used the Universal Periodic Review as a platform to hide reality and the crimes committed, including repression of civil society.  Burundi rejected all recommendations concerning civil society and human rights defenders, while the policy of terror and repression continued. 

International Service for Human Rights said that Burundi was experiencing a serious political crisis which had already caused thousands of deaths and the displacement of over 400,000 people.  Burundian civil society was the primary target of systematic oppression by the authorities.  Burundi should allow its civil society and human rights defenders to engage with the Special Rapporteurs without fear of reprisal, as well as refrain from stigmatising human rights defenders. 

CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation welcomed the decision to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, but regretted that the provisions of the Optional Protocol had not been implemented.  Torture and inhumane treatment of citizens had become commonplace in Burundi, and since its last Universal Periodic Review, Burundi had not implemented any of the accepted recommendations relating to civil space.  Since April 2015, authorities had used violence against peaceful protesters and were responsible for numerous killings and acts of torture.

United Nations Watch asked if the report accurately reflected the human rights situation in Burundi, and did it deserve to be adopted.  Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and China had welcomed Burundi’s commitment towards human rights instruments.  Out of the 96 country statements, 63 praised the human rights record of Burundi.  Yet the truth was the opposite, as demonstrated by the report of the Commission of Inquiry.  Burundi continued to commit grave violations of human rights. 

Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme noted with deep regret the continued non-cooperation of Burundi with the United Nations mechanisms and other international human rights bodies.  The severe nature of the human rights violations and abuses in the country, coupled with the refusal to cooperate, rendered Burundi unfit for membership in the Council.  The recommendations by Member States were useless given the lack of implementation by the Government of Burundi, and the deafness and blindness of the authorities.

The Vice President of the Human Rights Council said that out of 242 recommendations, Burundi accepted 125 and noted 117.

The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Burundi.


For use of the information media; not an official record 

HRC18/100E