Burundi: UN mission official paints grim picture of human rights situation

4 August 2005 –

The top rights official in the United Nations mission in Burundi today painted a gloomy picture of the human rights situation in the tiny central African country that is just now beginning to take tentative steps towards stability after decades of ethnic strife.

Ismael Diallo, Chief of the Human Rights Division of the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB), told a press conference in Bujumbura that violations, including rape, occur on a daily basis, and no arrests are ever made.

Most crimes, he said, are committed by members of the National Defence Forces and also members of the National Liberation Front (FNL), the rebel movement that has refused to join in the transitional government.

ONUB was set up in May 2004 to help cement a multi-party, power-sharing government and pave the way to peace in the small nation.

Just last weekend, Burundi successfully completed the latest round in a series of national elections. On Monday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative, Carolyn McAskie, called on the international community to give even more support, so that the people of the war-torn country can see the benefits of democracy and not fall back into the ethnically-fuelled conflict between Hutus and Tutsis.

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