The National Assembly will shortly analyze the bill on the national observatory for the prevention and eradication of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Meanwhile, this organ is subject to controversy.
The national observatory is an advisory organ, mandated by the 2005 Constitution in article 274. It is responsible for a regular monitoring of the evolution of Burundian society from the point of view of the issue of genocide, war crimes and other crimes against humanity among other things. The observatory will also have the task of preventing and eradicating acts of genocide, war crimes and other crimes against humanity, as well as suggesting measures to effectively fight against crime impunity. It will also promote and enforce strict legislation against genocide, war crimes and other crimes against humanity; propose policies and measures to rehabilitate victims of genocide, war crimes and other crimes against humanity and contributing to the implementation of a comprehensive program of awareness-raising and education for peace, unity and national reconciliation.
The observatory was already governed by the September 2003 law. It was stipulated that the organ should include 45 members recognized for their moral integrity and interest in the life of the nation particularly for the promotion and defense of social peace, human rights and justice. "Apart from the fact that the observatory is no longer functional, the law that governs it is no longer adapted to the current Constitution promulgated in March 2005" says Philippe Nzobonariba, spokesman for the government, after a study of this bill in the Council of Ministers on 10 May, 2017. According to him, this bill comes to adapt to the constitution that currently governs the Republic of Burundi.
Aloys Batungwanayo : « The organ should be apolitical »
The coalition of victims' associations, Amepci Gir'ubuntu, welcomes this initiative. Aloys Batungwanayo, Coordinator of this platform, says the group is useful so as what happened may not happen again. "However, politicians should not be appointed to steer the organ because some have other hidden interests." He calls for more partners to be involved in the project for more credibility. "It is with their input that the organ can be of benefit to everyone."
Térence Mushano: « We do not expect anything good from this Observatory »
The association AC Genocide Cirimoso says it does not expect anything good from this Observatory "insofar as the National Assembly which will examine this project setting up this body is dominated by Cndd-Fdd members just as the government, the initiator of the project."
Térence Mushano, Secretary of the association, wonders whether the government really wants to fight against war crimes and crimes against humanity whereas it withdrew itself from the International Criminal Court (ICC). "This is not the right time to set up such an observatory."
Lambert Nigarura: « it is a simple diversion"
"It is a desperate attempt to pretend to be concerned about the crimes of international law and thus anticipate the complementarity principle to be soon activated by ICC", says Mr. Lambert Nigarura, a human rights activist. According to him, Burundi needs concrete actions, chiefly, judicial actions and not just politicized groups set up to disorient the victims of these crimes who claim justice.
Nigarura criticizes the establishment of "a purely political group instead of investigating the allegations of the commission of these crimes in Burundi"
Anschaire Nikoyagize: "A government's tactic to hamper the work of the ICC"
Anschaire Nikoyagize, a human rights activist, says Bujumbura wants to show the international community that there is a local group that is working to block the ICC's action. "If we had an independent justice, we would not need ICC".
This activist feels the idea of setting up the observatory is good, but he is not expecting any result. "The national commissions and other groups created since the past few years are seen as window dressing by the international community. We know the group will be instrumentalized."
Gilbert Bécaud Njangwa: "Let institutions work!"
Gilbert Bécaud Njangwa, legal representative of Onelop, says it is not too early especially since this observatory is provided for in the Constitution. "The observatory will allow justice to working well and preventing crimes." He asks that all the organs provided for by the constitution, such as the high court of justice, should be set up.
Hamza Vénant Burikukiye: "Better late than never"
Hamza Vénant Burikukiye, the legal representative of Capes+, congratulates himself for the forthcoming establishment of the observatory. According to him, previous regimes did not do so despite the requirements of the Arusha Agreement. "We must support the current government instead of discouraging it." He urges Burundians not to give in to prejudices and let the observatory work. "At that point, we can judge whether or not the observatory is manipulated."
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