UN reports 'grim picture' of human rights in Burundi

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Friday, August 5, 2005

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Thirty-four summary executions were carried out in Burundi during July, says ONUB, the UN's mission to the war-torn country. The figures were announced at a press conference yesterday in the Burundian capital Bujumbura.

ONUB rights chief Ismael Diallo accused government forces and members of the hardlined Hutu rebel group Palipehutu-FNL of being behind most of the violence.

Diallo outlined a "grim picture", according to a UN press release, with human rights violations taking place every day, and no arrests ever being made. The violence is continuing despite the success of recent elections in the country.

Analysts have argued that Burundi is in the grip of a "culture of impunity", which perpetuates the cycle of violence.

"For reasons of diplomacy, people are sitting at the exact same table as war criminals, and in some cases granting them immunity. If the atrocities are to end there must be at least some indications that justice will be done", Human Rights Watch spokesman Stephan Van Praet told Reuters, following last year's Gatumba massacre.

August 13th will mark the first anniversary of the attack, in which 152 Congolese Tutsi refugees were shot, hacked and burned to death. Despite widespread international condemnation, no arrests have yet been made and a UN investigation has stalled.

An estimated 300,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in Burundi since civil war broke out in 1993.

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