Burundi under fire at U.N. for expelling UN investigators

Burundian Ambassador to the UN Renovat Tabu said events had been twisted in order to imply there had not been full cooperation by his country.

The United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday put Burundi’s ambassador in Geneva to task over his governments ejection of a UN team that the council had deployed to investigate human rights abuses in the country.

Deputy Human Rights Commissioner Kate Gilmore informed the Council that her office could not deliver a promised report on the human rights situation in the East African country because the government there had not cooperated with the expert team, which was deployed in March. Burundi’s government had cancelled their visas.

“It is a matter of concern that through its lack of cooperation Burundi has prevented implementation of this Council’s resolution and the mandated work of the group of experts,” Gilmore said.

Burundi was plunged into violence in April 2015, following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s declaration that he would run for a controversial third term in office, one which he went on to win in a disputed July poll.

Clashes between security forces and opposition rebels left hundreds dead, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

Gilmore welcomed criticism of Burundi by European diplomats at the council, which she said showed “the inappropriateness, the unacceptability of this paralysis”.

On his part, Burundian Ambassador Renovat Tabu said the departure of the U.N. team had been spun to cast his government in a bad light.

“Burundi regrets… the way in which events have been twisted in order to imply there has not been full cooperation,” he said.

“Burundi is concerned by an unfair accusation which further entrenches the hostility which has been commonplace against Burundi for some time.”

He said former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein had changed the U.N. team’s mission, an “irregularity” which surprised Burundi’s migration services, who declined to extend the team’s visas.

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