Burundi bans oldest rights group

Published by Théophile Niyitegeka
On 4 January 2017 saa 12:23
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Burundi authorities have banned the country’s oldest human rights organisation, which had continued reporting abuses despite being suspended when political turmoil broke out nearly two years ago.

A ministerial order made public Tuesday accused the Iteka League of "continuing to tarnish the image of the country and sowing hatred and division among the population".

The rights group, established in 1991, took part in a two-year investigation with the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) which resulted in a report released in November documenting state-sponsored violence and warning of the risk of genocide.

"We are not surprised by this decision (because) it confirms that the Burundi government continues to do everything to prevent the reporting of serious violations of human rights," Iteka President Anschaire Nikoyagize, who lives in exile, told AFP.

Despite being run from abroad, the Iteka League continues to produce weekly and monthly reports on rights abuses in Burundi.

Burundi was plunged into turmoil in April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term in office, prompting massive protests and a failed coup attempt.

Ensuing unrest has left more than 500 people dead and seen more than 300,000 flee the central African country.

Nkurunziza has worked to shore up control of the country with a crackdown on opponents, the media and civil society.

The defiant 53-year-old president last week hinted that he would not rule out a fourth stab at the presidency in 2020 elections.

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Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza speaking to the press in his office in Bujumbura on May 17, 2015. A human rights agency has been banned.

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