UN human rights chief slams ‘regrettable’ Burundi threats

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The UN’s human rights chief on Thursday demanded respect from Burundi after its ambassador threatened to prosecute the authors of a recent report detailing continuing violations in the country.

A day earlier, in an address at the UN General Assembly, Ambassador Albert Shingiro had branded the report “biased,” “politically-oriented” and “insulting,” with the goal of “destabilizing the country.”

“Given the defamatory nature of this report, my country reserves its legitimate right to bring the authors to justice for defamation and attempting to destabilize Burundi,” he said.

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, said Shingiro’s response was “deeply regrettable in both tone and substance.”

“The threat to prosecute the members of the Commission for the work they have done at the express request of the Council — a subsidiary body of the General Assembly — is unacceptable and should be immediately withdrawn,” she added.

“As a member state of the United Nations, Burundi should show respect to its institutions and the various bodies, laws and mechanisms it has established.”

Published early last month, the report detailed serious human rights violations in Burundi, including crimes against humanity, which it found continued through 2017 and 2018.

A member of the human rights council, Burundi — whose government refused to cooperate with UN investigators — in September threatened to quit the body, accusing it of “politicization.”