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UN Human Rights Council Switzerland ‘alarmed’ by human rights situation in Burundi

United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva

The 40th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva runs from February 27 until March 24

(© Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi)

Switzerland has urged the Burundian authorities to take all necessary steps to end human rights violations and impunity in the east African state. It regrets Burundi’s recent move to force the United Nations to shut its local human rights office after 23 years. 

Addressing the 40th session of the United Nations Human Rights Councilexternal link in Geneva on Tuesday, the Swiss ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Valentin Zellweger, said Switzerland was “alarmed”external link by reports of summary executions, enforced disappearances, torture and sexual violence in Burundi. 

Switzerland has called for the release of human rights activists who have been subject to arbitrary arrests and detention and excessive penalties. It also deplores the closure at the end of February of the UN human rights office in Burundi.

The International Criminal Court estimates that some 1,200 people have been killed in Burundi in clashes with security forces and almost half a million have fled abroad since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced in 2015 he would run for a third term.

Nkurunziza won re-election and in 2016 Burundi suspended all cooperation with the UN human rights office in Burundi after a UN-commissioned report accused the Bujumbura government and its supporters of being responsible for crimes against humanity.

Last Tuesday, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the Burundian government had declared it had made sufficient progress in human rights so the UN rights office in Bujumbura was no longer justified.

The Swiss ambassador said Switzerland supported the mandate of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundiexternal link and urged the Burundian authorities to cooperate with its members as well as with other UN mechanisms for the protection of rights human rights, including special rapporteurs and treaty bodies.

Keystone SDA/sb

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