Burundi declares UN rights team unwelcome

Wednesday September 12 2018

Doudou Diène

Chairman of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, Doudou Diene arrives to a press conference to present a report on rights violations in the country on September 5, 2018 in Geneva. He has been declared persona non grata in Burundian territory. PHOTO | FABRICE COFFRINI | AFP 

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Burundi has banned three members of the UN Commission of Inquiry from entering the country following a damning report accusing the ruling party of abetting crimes against humanity and other rights violations.

Foreign Affairs minister Ezechiel Nibigira on Wednesday said that his country was disappointed “with the content of the false and defamatory report that the Commission of Inquiry made public.”

The report, released last week, said the ruling party's youth league Imbonerakure had “become increasingly important in the repression, outside any legal framework and with near total impunity.”

The UN rights team also said that there had been widespread hate speech fanned by government officials including President Pierre Nkurunziza.

The three officials declared persona non grata are the Commission's chief Doudou Diène, Lucy Asuagbor and Francoise Hampson.

While debating the matter in parliament on Tuesday, lawmakers termed the report as baseless, adding that it was meant to tarnish the country’s image.

“The Commission of Inquiry is a weapon being used by the colonialist and their plan is to cause conflict and divide Burundians,” said Pascal Barandagiye, Home Affairs minister.

The legislators called on government to file a complaint against authors of the report and demand an apology.

This is not the first time Burundi has declared UN officials persona non grata.

In 2016, Bujumbura barred three UN rights experts who had accused the government of being responsible for rights abuses.

Burundi is the first African country to withdraw from the International Criminal Court in October last year.