Violation of Burundian refugees’ rights alarms UN human rights experts

Two Tanzanian mothers walking and carrying their sons Two Tanzanian mothers walking and carrying their sons Photo by Zeynep Gokalp - on Unsplash

13 April 2021

UN human rights experts are alarmed by a cooperation of Tanzanian and Burundian authorities that has led to massive violations of refugees’ rights

In 2015, the re-election of president Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi caused an eruption of violence in the country, subsequently leading to the outbreak of a refugee crisis and more than 295,000 people fleeing Burundi for neighbouring countries. A few days ago, UN human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council expressed deep concerns over the rights of the Burundian refugees and asylum seekers in Tanzania, where almost 50% of them have fled to.

Indeed, it has been reported that the intelligence services of Burundi pose as refugees in the camps and identify individuals that the Tanzanian authorities later arrest. Practices such as enforced disappearances, torture, forced returns, repression and even murders have been reported, all in addition to the strict encampment policy that is already enforced by the Tazmanian government. Some have also been interrogated concerning their alleged participation in armed groups, their alleged possession of weapons, and their activities in the camp in general. This lack of safety has led many to express their fear of being abducted during the night, while others have been even led to the decision of returning to Burundi because of their anxiety.

These alarming violations of human rights caused by the co-operation of Tanzanian authorities with their counterparts in Burundi has been known to the Government of Tanzania, who announced the start of investigations into the allegations in August 2020. However, no outcomes have yet been published, and UN human rights experts underlined the importance of the immediate application of counter measures to these severe violations by the government. Meanwhile, independent experts mandated by the UN continue to monitor the occurrence of specific human rights violations within the country, and generally watch over the situation.


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Author: Chara Papastefanaki; Editor: Maxime Grenier

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