Status of EALA Public Hearing Workshop on the deteriorating Human Rights and Humanitarian Situation in the Republic of Burundi held on 13-16th January 2016 in Arusha
- The EALA Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution commenced its Public Hearing Workshop on the deteriorating Human Rights and humanitarian situation in Burundi on January 13th, 2016 in Arusha, Tanzania.
- The Committee called for the Public Hearing Workshop in order to establish the facts as reported by the petition on the subject matter. The petition prepared by the Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU) – principal petitioner and the East Africa Civil Society Organisations’ Forum, Atrocities Watch Africa, Centre for Citizens’ Participation on the African Union, East Africa Law Society and the Kituo Cha Katiba was originally presented to the Speaker of EALA, Rt Hon. Daniel Fred Kidega on 25th November 2015 in Arusha, Tanzania.
- The Committee further endeavours to make recommendations to the Assembly on the issues arising at the next Plenary meeting scheduled for Arusha on 24th January - 5th February 2016.
- In order to facilitate the Public Hearing Workshop, EALA invited participants from its Committee membership (15), two Government Officials from the Republic of Burundi, four members of the Civil Society from the Republic of Burundi, four Members of different political parties from the Republic of Burundi and the six petitioners. The Assembly also invited the Minister for Defence, Uganda, who is representing H.E. President Yoweri Museveni as the EAC mediator on the Burundi Dialogue, the Chair Council and Minister for Foreign Affairs, East African Community, Regional and International Co-operation in the United Republic of Tanzania, the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great lakes Region, the Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Burundi, the Secretary-General of the East African Community and the Chief Advisor to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
- However, the Assembly received a letter from the Government of the Republic of Burundi dated 8th January 2016, indicating their unavailability on the dates (13-16th January 2016) but reiterating its desire to participate in the workshop after 18th January 2016.
- On Day 1, The Public Hearing Workshop orally received the petition from the six petitioners. The presentation was made on behalf of the petitioners by the CEO of PALU, Mr Don Deya. Immediately thereafter, members took the opportunity to seek clarifications on the presentations.
- On Day 2, the Workshop listened to the contributions from other invited stakeholders comprising of the representatives of Civil Society Organisation from Burundi and the opposition parties in Burundi. The interventions were made by the following individuals:
- Mr Vital Nshihirimana, President, Forum pour le renforcement des Organisations de la Societe Civil (FORSC).
- Mrs Marie-Louise Barichako, Chairperson, Mouvement es Femmes et des Filles pour la Paix et la Securite au Burundi.
- Hon. Dr Jean Minani, Co-ordinator, Conseil National pour le Respect de l’Accord d’Arusha pour la paix et la reconciliation au Burundi et pour Restauration de l’Etat de Droit.
- Mr Justine Nkurunziza, President, Coalition de la Societe Civile pour le Monitoring Electoral (COSOME).
- Mr Alexandre Niyungeko, President, Association Burundaise des Journalistes.
- Mr Nimubona Richard, Observateur Juridique des Prisons a l’APRODH.
- Hon. Charles Nditije, President, Union pour le Progres National (UPRONA).
The Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution then sought clarifications and interventions from the said presenters before retreating to analyse and review the said contributions.
Moving Forward: What are the next Steps?
- EALA has responded to the Government of Burundi welcoming its decision to participate in the Public Hearing Workshop. The Assembly has thus set aside 25th January 2016 as the new date to hold its second Public Hearing and notified the Government of the Republic of Burundi of the same.
- Any other stakeholder who has views to share with the Committee is also invited to attend the Public Hearing upon prior arrangement.
- Once finalised, the Committee shall retreat and prepare its Report.
- The said Report shall be forwarded to the Assembly for deliberations at its next Sitting (25th January – 5th February 2016).
- Upon debate and approval by the House, the Report is expected to be forwarded to the EAC Council of Ministers for further action.
In the interim, I wish to underscore the following:
- Express concern on the continued political crisis in Burundi and its potential to degenerate further with far reaching humanitarian implications.
- Reiterate need for immediate cessation of killings, torture, kidnapping and maiming of citizens in the Republic of Burundi.
- Implore the return to the negotiating table by all stakeholders in the Republic of Burundi and embracing of political dialogue aimed at addressing the current impasse.
- Urge for objective and factual reporting by the national, regional and international media. I laud the media for covering the Public Hearing Workshop objectively so far.
Hon Abdullah Mwinyi
Chairperson, Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution Committee
East African Legislative Assembly