Burundi rights defenders under pressure

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Michel Forst. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

The Government of Burundi should ease pressure on human rights defenders, according to the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR).

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, expressed regret on Tuesday that activists in Burundi are deemed to be political opponents.

He said that in reality they are promoting and protecting human rights and civil liberties.

Mr Forst emphasised that threats and defamation campaigns by some media outlets weigh on human rights defenders, who also report a high number of cases of physical threats, anonymous phone calls and assaults.

He described himself as being struck by the incredible vitality and professionalism of civil society in Burundi despite the difficult environment in which they work.

The UN expert added that he also shared his concerns with the Government regarding laws affecting the press that are contrary to international obligations.

In particular, Mr Forst noted the requirement that journalists have in Burundi to reveal their sources, which limits effective enjoyment of freedom of expression.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1’08″

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