The European Union has renewed sanctions against Burundi until October 31, 2018, citing lack of meaningful progress in resolving the political situation in the country.
In a press statement, the European mission in Burundi said the sanctions consist of travel bans and asset freezes against four top Burundian officials whose activities are deemed to be undermining democratic governance and obstructing the search for a peaceful political solution in Burundi.
“The EU remains profoundly concerned by information on continuing extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, forced disappearances, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and gender-based violence, including sexual violence committed in Burundi since April 2015,” the mission said in a statement.
The move comes barely two weeks after the Burundian government asked the EU to lift the sanctions to enable Burundi ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement the Union has with the East African Community.
Spès Caritas Njebarikanuye, first vice speaker of Burundi Senate told the 47th Parliamentary Assembly of African, Caribbean and Pacific States and the EU in Belgium to support Burundi in calling on the EU to lift the sanctions, a move she said would create favourable conclusion for the regional partnership.
The request follows an earlier, similar call by the country’s parliamentarians in May, who appealed to the EU and member states to consider the country’s achievements in improving human rights and remove the sanctions.
The EU first imposed sanctions against the four Burundian officers — senior police, intelligence and presidency officials and an army general linked to a 2015 coup — in October 2015 for their alleged participation in the repression of protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term bid in April that year.
Barely a year later, the EU cancelled direct financial assistance to Burundi, including budget support, arguing that the government had failed to address the human rights abuses and failed to uphold democracy and the rule of law.
Burundi plunged into a crisis in April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would run for a controversial third term in office, despite strong opposition from rights groups and the opposition party.
According to the United Nations Commission for Refugees, 410,413 have already fled the country, driven out by the deteriorating political situation, with a majority hosted in Tanzania.