Burundi’s ambassador in Geneva struggled to explain to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Tuesday why his government had thrown out a U.N. team that the Council, with Burundi’s backing, had sent to investigate human rights abuses in the country.
Deputy Human Rights Commissioner Kate Gilmore told the Council that her office could not deliver a promised report on human rights in Burundi because the government had not cooperated with the expert team, who were deployed in March and told their visas were cancelled in April.
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“It is a matter of concern that through its lack of cooperation Burundi has prevented implementation of this Council’s resolution and the mandated work of the group of experts,” she said.
Burundi has been gripped by violence since early 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza said he would seek a third term, widely seen as a breach of the constitution.
Subsequent clashes between security forces and rebels left hundreds dead and forced about half a million to flee, reviving memories of the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda, which has a similar ethnic mix.
Gilmore welcomed criticism of Burundi by European diplomats at the council, which she said showed “the inappropriateness, the unacceptability of this paralysis”.
Burundian Ambassador Renovat Tabu said the departure of the U.N. team had been spun to cast his government in a bad light.
“Burundi regrets… the way in which events have been twisted in order to imply there has not been full cooperation,” he said.
“Burundi is concerned by an unfair accusation which further entrenches the hostility which has been commonplace against Burundi for some time.”
He said former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein had changed the U.N. team’s mission, an “irregularity” which surprised Burundi’s migration services, who declined to extend the team’s visas.
The agreement to send the experts to Burundi, based on a resolution submitted by the African group of countries at the Council last year, was widely seen as a diplomatic ploy to derail a more heavyweight Commission of Inquiry.
But the attempt failed, and the Council ended up sending both, leaving Burundi facing double scrutiny and with a public commitment to cooperate with investigators.
Last week the Commission of Inquiry said crimes against humanity were still being committed in Burundi, whipped up by rhetoric from top officials including Nkurunziza. Burundi called the accusations “lies”.
The Commission is seeking a renewal of its mandate from the 47-member Human Rights Council, which began a three-week session on Monday.
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Nigeria Football Federation boss Amaju Pinnick under fresh corruption probe
Several properties belonging to top officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), including its president Amaju Pinnick, have been seized in a fresh corruption probe.
The latest investigation and seizures are being carried out by the country’s Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC).
The ICPC has published a newspaper advertisement about the properties seized – half of which belong to Pinnick.
According to the statement published in the Nigerian papers one of Pinnick’s properties is in London.
It comes amidst wide-ranging claims over how money meant for football development allegedly disappeared.
“We can’t go into further details beyond the fact that many officials of the NFF are under investigation,” ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa said.
“It’s basically because what they have is in excess of what they have earned.”
The ICPC has also taken control of properties belonging to the NFF second vice-president Shehu Dikko and the general secretary Muhamed Sanusi among others.
Rwanda ban Burundi,s music star ahead of annual festival
Burundian musician Jean Pierre Nimbona, popularly known as Kidum, has told the BBC he is confused by Rwanda’s decision to ban him from playing at the upcoming Kigali Jazz Fusion festival.
Kidum is one of Burundi’s biggest music stars and has performed in Rwanda for the past 16 years.
But a police official phoned the musician’s manager to warn that he would only be allowed to make private visits to Rwanda.
“[My manager was told] Kidum is not supposed to perform, tell him to leave. If he comes for private visits fine, but no performances,” the musician told BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme.
The mayor of Rwanda’s capital said that in this instance permission had not been sought from the authorities for him to perform at the festival in Kigali.
Kidum was a leading peace activist during Burundi’s civil war between 1993 and 2003 and used his songs to call for reconciliation.
The 44-year-old musician said he had never had problems with Rwandan authorities until recently when three of his shows were cancelled at the last minute – including one in December 2018.
That month Burundi had banned Meddy, a musician who is half-Burundian, half-Rwandan, from performing in the main city of Bujumbura.
Kidum said he was unsure if the diplomatic tensions between Burundi and Rwanda had influenced his ban.
“I don’t know, I don’t have any evidence about that. And if there was politics, I’m not a player in politics, I’m just a freelance musician based in Nairobi,” he said.
He said he would not challenge the ban: “There’s nothing I can do, I just wait until maybe the decision is changed some day.
“It’s similar to a family house and you are denied entry… so you just have to wait maybe until the head of the family decides otherwise.”
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