An op-ed by Pamela Capizzi
Citing numerous cases of enforced disappearances, TRIAL International calls on the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) to go to Burundi.
At the beginning of the month, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, reported “a major increase in cases of enforced disappearance between November 2016 and March 2017, as well as the discovery of dozens of unidentified bodies in various parts of the country.”
TRIAL International has brought several cases of enforced disappearances in Burundi to the attention of different mechanisms, including the Working Group.
In addition to reviewing individual complaints, the WGEID has the possibility of conducting country missions. Since 2009, it has repeatedly sought an invitation from Burundi – so far without success*.
The WGEID has a constructive role to play
The aim of a visit from experts of the WGEID would be to improve the dialogue between families of the disappeared and the national authorities. A visit could also facilitate the opening of investigations into the many alleged cases.
The government has never followed up on the WGEID’s request for an invitation. By responding favourably, Burundi would demonstrate its willingness to collaborate with the international community. And finally choose the path of de-escalation.
The WGEID’s most recent request for an invitation dates from 27 November 2015. TRIAL International calls on the WGEID to renew its request. Such a visit could only encourage the search for the truth and bring an end to the families’ suffering.
Pamela Capizzi, Legal Advisor
* On the 27th of March 2017, the government of Burundi declined the WGEID’s request