BUJUMBURA March 7th (ABP) – Burundi “is not yet officially notified” of a demotion decision to the National Independent Commission on Human Rights (CNIDH) from “status A to status B”, it was said on Monday during a press briefing by Mr. Jean-Baptiste Baribonekeza, chairman of the Burundian commission, in response to recent comments by some local media, reporting such a demotion. Mr. Baribonekeza wanted to take stock of the current status of the Burundian CNIDH at the level of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRIs) which is a coordinating body of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) whose executive secretary office is based in Geneva (Switzerland).
The Burundian CNIDH was created in November 2011 and was raised, one year later (November 2012), to status A in accordance with the “Paris Principles” adopted in 2007 in the French capital on the minimum standards required by NHRIs to be considered as “credible and effective” in the protection of human rights. To date, out of 121 NHRIs identified on the planet, in accordance with the Paris Principles and according to evaluation criteria established by GANHRIs composed of 78 NHRIs classified as A status for having “completely” satisfied the commitments regarding the Paris Principles, of 33 classified as B status to be “partially” satisfied and 10 classified as C status for “not having made any commitment” in this area.
Regarding the current status of the Burundian CNIDH at the GANHRI level, Mr. Baribonekeza first emphasized that Burundi is only aware of a process of demotion from status A to status B, which has been underway two years ago.
“The CNIDH is therefore faced with a process that is going through stages because, at the last session of the GANHRI Accreditation Sub-Committee in November 2017 in Geneva, its members had recommended that the Burundian CNIDH be demoted from status A to status B. However, the recommendation must be ratified by the GANHRI office to be notified to Burundi in due form, “he said. The ratification of this recommendation by the GANHRI office, he added, will have to take into account the “recourse already introduced” by the Burundian CNIDH against this process of degradation, on the basis of the “objective elements” at its disposal. Thus, Mr. Baribonekeza regretted that so far, the arguments raised by the Burundian CNIDH to deny this degradation process “were not sufficiently considered” by the sub-committee of accreditation dating from last November.
Referring to the elements contained in the Burundian CNIDH recourse argument already submitted to this Subcommittee, Mr. Baribonekeza spoke of an unfounded demotion recommendation “based on false allegations, statements and information from second hand “relayed by some international organizations. He even pointed to the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and some Burundian civil society organizations already dissolved by the Burundian government and whose chairpersons have fled abroad following the Burundian election crisis of 2015.
Mr. Baribonekeza accused by name the Burundian Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Prisoners (APRODH), the Christian Alliance for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT), the Forum for Concord and Development ( FOCODE) and the Forum for the building of Civil Society (FORSC) to be behind the dissemination of “false” information on the Burundian CNIDH, with a view to the accreditation of the thesis that the latter “would not be independent in its actions and gestures “for the protection of human rights in Burundi.
Asked when is awaiting the final decision to demote the Burundian CNIDH from status A to status B, Mr. Baribonekeza indicated that the relating sentence is expected during this month of March and that in the event of validation of the demotion, the management of the CNIDH will immediately issue an appeal for rejection.