News in Brief 22 November 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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The decision to appoint a Commission of Inquiry on Burundi was taken at the Human Rights Council’s last session in September. Photo: Jess Hoffman

Burundi Commission of Inquiry members appointed

The appointment has been announced of a special UN panel of rights experts tasked with investigating abuses in Burundi and ensuring justice for victims.

The three members of the Commission of Inquiry are Fatsah Ouguergouz, from Algeria, Reina Alapini Gansu from Benin and Francoise Hampson from the United Kingdom.

Hundreds of people have reportedly been killed since President Pierre Nkurunziza won a controversial third term in office in July.

Opponents say that move violated the country's constitution as well as a deal that ended civil war in 2005.

A recent UN Independent Investigation in Burundi described what it called "abundant evidence of gross human rights violations" by the government, possibly amounting to crimes against humanity.

In line with a Human Rights Council resolution in September, the new investigators' 12-month mandate will involve identifying alleged perpetrators of human rights violations.

The Gambia faces appeal over journalists held "incommunicado"

In the Gambia, concern is growing for two journalists who the UN says have been held "incommunicado" for two weeks now, ahead of presidential elections.

According to the UN Human Rights Office, Momodou Sabally and Bakary Fatty from the Gambia Radio and Television Services, have been arbitrarily detained since 8 November.

No charges have been made against them.

Rupert Colville is spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:

"Incommunicado detention without charge is a clear violation of the Gambian constitution, which requires detainees to be brought before court within 72 hours, and of the country's international human rights obligations."

A number of other people also remain in detention in the Gambia without access to family members or lawyers, including an opposition supporter and a former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The latest detentions come as 30 members of the Gambia's main opposition party are serving out three-year prison sentences following their participation in peaceful protests in mid-April.

Cyprus talks stall over land swap deal

High-level talks to heal the decades-old split in Cyprus have ended without agreement on how much of the island should be administered by its Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities.

The news comes after the leaders of both sides engaged in two rounds of what the UN described as "serious and sustained negotiations" in Switzerland.

The conflict dates back to post-independence communal strife in the 1960s and 1970s which left Turkish-Cypriots occupying the northern third of the island and Greek-Cypriots the rest.

A demilitarized buffer zone manned by the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus still divides both communities.

In a statement the UN Spokesperson in Cyprus, Espen Barthe Eide, said that "despite their best efforts", neither side had been able to achieve the "necessary further convergences…on territorial adjustment".

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 2’50″

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