Foreign Minister must stand up for defenders of human rights in Burundi

6 June 2010

Foreign Minister must stand up for defenders of human rights in Burundi

The SP today urged Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen to take a firm stand in defence of human rights advocates in Burundi. A number of elections are on the agenda this year in the east African country, and political violence is repeatedly flaring up. Impartial human rights advocates able to conduct free investigations are badly needed.

Ewout IrrgangIt was recently revealed that the Human Rights Watch investigator in Burundi had been instructed by the Burundi authorities to leave the country by June 5th. The reasons given concerned a recent critical report on election violence perpetrated by the current governing party in Burundi, the CNDD-FDD. The report was described as 'prejudiced' and an attempt to show the CNDD-FDD in a bad light. SP Member of Parliament Ewout Irrgang dismisses the charges as "too crazy for words," pointing out that "other parties are not spared in the report, and Human Rights Watch is, moreover, not the only organisation to have come to this conclusion. So this has everything to do with the fact that the current government simply does not want criticism and is doing everything it can to smother this in the cradle. The fact that at the beginning of this week five candidates from different opposition parties were forced to withdraw from the contest for the presidency simply confirms this suspicion."

The SP is asking the Foreign Minister if he – preferably at EU level – will condemn the expulsion of the Human Rights Watch investigator and put pressure on the Burundian authorities to allow her to return. The SP also wants to see this course of events taken into serious account in the decision, which will be taken by the Dutch government in September, as to whether to give budgetary aid to the Burundian government.

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