Sharing the Secretary-General's deep concern at the situation in Burundi, the Security Council this afternoon condemned in the strongest terms those responsible for daily killings, massacres, torture and arbitrary detentions in that country and stated that such actions must cease immediately.
In a statement read out by its President, Sir John Weston (United Kingdom), the Council called upon all concerned in Burundi to exercise maximum restraint and to refrain from all acts of violence. It reiterated its profound concern about radio stations which incite hatred and acts of genocide and encouraged Member States and others concerned to cooperate in the identification and dismantling of them. In that context, it stressed the importance it attaches to the work of the International Commission of Inquiry.
Expressing grave concern at recent attacks on international humanitarian organizations, which led to the suspension of essential assistance to refugees and displaced persons, and to the temporary withdrawal of international personnel, the Council welcomed the Secretary-General's decision to ask the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, to discuss with authorities in Burundi steps that might be taken to defuse the situation.
The Council stated that it would consider proposals by the Secretary- General relating to the situation in Burundi in the light of the reports by the High Commissioner for Refugees and the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Burundi. The Secretary-General was requested to consider what role United Nations personnel might play in Burundi.
The Council reaffirmed its support for Burundi's Convention of Government of 10 September 1994, which constitutes the institutional framework for national reconciliation in the country, and once again called upon all political parties, military forces and elements of civil society to respect and implement that document.
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The meeting was called to order at 4:40 p.m. and adjourned at 4:49 p.m.
The full text of the statement, which will be issued as document S/PRST/1996/1, reads as follows:
"The Security Council has considered the letter of 29 December 1995 from the Secretary-General to the President of the Council on developments in Burundi (S/1995/1068). The Council shares the Secretary-General's deep concern at the situation in Burundi, which has been characterized by daily killings, massacres, torture and arbitrary detention. It condemns in the strongest terms those responsible for such actions, which must cease immediately. It encourages all States to take the measures deemed necessary to prevent such persons from travelling abroad and receiving any kind of support. It reiterates its profound concern about radio stations which incite hatred and acts of genocide and encourages Member States and others concerned to cooperate in the identification and dismantling of them. The Council calls upon all concerned in Burundi to exercise maximum restraint and to refrain from all acts of violence. It reiterates that all who commit or authorize the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law are individually responsible for such violations and should be held accountable. In this context it stresses the importance it attaches to the work of the International Commission of Inquiry established pursuant to its resolution 1012 (1995) of 28 August 1995, and undertakes to study carefully the letter form the Secretary-General dated 3 January 1996 containing an interim report on that work (S/1996/8).
"The Security Council is gravely concerned at recent attacks on international humanitarian organizations, which have led to the suspension of essential assistance to refugees and displaced persons and to the temporary withdrawal of international personnel. The Council welcomes the Secretary- General's decision to ask the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to visit Burundi to discuss with the Burundi authorities steps that might be taken to defuse the situation. It underlines that the authorities in Burundi are responsible for the security of personnel of international humanitarian organizations and of the refugees and displaced persons there and calls upon the Government of Burundi to provide adequate security to food convoys and humanitarian personnel.
"The Security Council welcomes the assumption of his functions by the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Burundi, and calls on all concerned to support his efforts. It commends the work of the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in seeking to promote dialogue and national reconciliation in Burundi, as well as the role played there by the Organization of African Unity (OAU). It welcomes the decision of the OAU in Addis Ababa on 19 December 1995 to extend the mandate of the OAU Mission in Burundi for another three months and to strengthen the civilian
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component of the mission. The Council also welcomes the outcome of the Cairo Conference of Heads of State of the Great Lakes Region on 29 November 1995, it supports the work of the facilitators appointed by it, and emphasizes once again the importance it attaches to all States acting in accordance with the recommendations contained in the Cairo Declaration as well as those adopted at the Regional Conference held in Bujumbura in February 1995. It stresses the importance of continued attention by the international community as a whole to the situation in Burundi and encourages Member States to intensify contacts and visits.
"The Security Council notes the proposals referred to in the Secretary- General's letter of 29 December 1995. It will consider these and other proposals he may submit in the light of the reports of Mrs. Ogata's mission and from his Special Representative in Burundi. It also requests the Secretary-General to consider what role United Nations personnel in the region and other support personnel might play in Burundi.
"The Security Council reaffirms its support for the Convention of Government of 10 September 1994, which constitutes the institutional framework for national reconciliation in Burundi and for the institutions of Government established in line with it. It calls once again upon all political parties, military forces and elements of civil society in Burundi fully to respect and implement the Convention of Government and to give their continued support to the institutions of Government established in line with it.
"The Security Council will remain seized of this matter."
Secretary-General's Letters on Burundi
The Secretary-General's summary of the report of the Commission of Inquiry is transmitted to the Council in a letter he sent to its President dated 3 January (document S/1996/8).
(The Commission was established pursuant to Council resolution 1012 (1995) to ascertain the facts relating to the 1993 assassination of the President of Burundi, and the massacres and related violence that followed. The Commission was also mandated to recommend measures to bring to justice the persons responsible for those acts, prevent any repetition of the violence, help eradicate impunity, and promote national reconciliation in Burundi.)
The summary identifies four major problems facing the Commission in the implementation of its mandate. The first is the period of time that has elapsed since the events under investigation, which led, among others, to the dispersal of perpetrators, witnesses, victims and evidence. Secondly, the Commission finds it difficult to obtain objective and reliable testimony in the current climate of ethnic polarization, which is intensifying under the influence of extremists.
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"The general deterioration of the security situation in Burundi is the third problem and the one that poses the greatest obstacle to the work of the Commission", states the Secretary-General. While United Nations security provided for the Commission is viewed as inadequate, members feel that reliance on the Burundese security forces is likely to compromise the Commission's credibility. Finally, the Commission expresses serious concern about the inadequacy of the resources provided to it. Additional staff are needed for the Commission to accomplish its mandate. The Commission intends to initiate, as resources and the security situation allow, a detailed and systematic investigation of the crimes that are included within its mandate.
The security situation in Burundi is also the subject of a letter dated 29 December 1995 from the Secretary-General to the Council President (document S/1995/1068), in which the former expresses deep concern about the persistence of violence and the further escalation of human rights violations in Burundi.
According to the letter, after visiting that country in June 1995, the Commission on Human Rights' Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burundi, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, reported that the country is the scene of a smouldering civil war. The situation has continued to deteriorate since May 1995 and is characterized by daily killings, massacres, torture and arbitrary detention. The human rights situation "reveals an increasingly marked genocidal trend of a socio-ethnic nature" and perpetrators are still enjoying impunity. Among the Special Rapporteur's recommendations is the establishment of a national police force accepted by both communities.
The deteriorating situation is underscored by recent decisions of international organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the World Food Programme and most non-governmental organizations, to curtail or suspend their activities in Burundi following a spate of violent attacks against their personnel and assets, the Secretary- General continues. "I fear there is a real danger of the situation in Burundi degenerating to the point where it might explode into ethnic violence on a massive scale", he adds.
He reiterates proposals made to the Council on two previous occasions in 1994 concerning the preventive deployment of military personnel and guards. He also informs the Council that he asked the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, to travel immediately to Bujumbura as his personal envoy in order to discuss with the government authorities, at the highest level, steps that might be taken on an urgent basis to defuse the situation and enable international organizations to function effectively.
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