Burundi: UN rights expert outraged by murder of anti-corruption activist

Residents on the outskirts of Burundi's capital, Bujumbura

16 April 2009 – An independent United Nations human rights expert today voiced outrage over the killing of an anti-corruption campaigner in Burundi, calling for an immediate investigation into the murder.

Ernest Manirumva, the vice-president of an anti-corruption organization, was found stabbed to death in his home last week after being abducted from his office by unidentified men looking for documents, according to media reports.

“His death is yet another proof that the right to freedom of expression is under attack in Burundi and that those who choose to exercise it freely are in danger,” warned Akich Okola, the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Burundi.

Urging authorities to launch an inquiry into the 8 April murder of the leader of the Observatory for the Struggle against Corruption and Economic Embezzlement (OLUCOME), Mr. Okola underscored the need “to bring [the] perpetrators to justice.”

He also expressed deep concern over reports that other OLUCOME staff members are regularly subjected to intimidation and threats.

“This situation is simply unacceptable,” he said, calling on Burundian authorities “to take appropriate measures to ensure the protection of OLUCOME staff as well as other members of civil society and human rights defenders in particular.”

Mr. Okola, who has served as Independent Expert since 2004, warned that “increasing trends to restrict freedom of expression and freedom of association threaten consolidation of peace in Burundi.”

He also reminded the Government of a number of recommendations – concerning guarantees to freedoms of association, expression, opinion and peaceful assembly –he made to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in a recent review of the human rights situation in the African Great Lakes country.

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