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Mon May 30 10:44:25 CAT 2016

UN team to probe Burundi

AFP | 01 March, 2016 00:27
Following a visit to Burundi last week by five African leaders, led by President Jacob Zuma, the African Union said it would increase the number of human rights and military observers deployed. File photo
Image by: EVRARD NGENDAKUMANA / REUTERS

The UN yesterday said it would send a team of investigators to Burundi to look into allegations of widespread human rights violations during the country's 10-month-long political crisis.

The team was expected in Burundi today, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said.

The three experts - from Algeria, Colombia and South Africa - are members of the UN's Independent Investigation on Burundi office, set up in December and tasked with "an investigation into violations and abuses of human rights with a view to preventing further deterioration of the human rights situation".

"Our aim is to help the state fulfil its human rights obligations, and ensure accountability for human rights violations and abuses, including by identifying perpetrators," said Christof Heyns, the UN's special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, who is one of the investigators.

"We have a clear mandate from the Human Rights Council to help prevent Burundi from falling into the abyss," said Maya Sahli-Fadel, the Algerian team member.

The team is expected to present its preliminary findings later this month.

Following a visit to Burundi last week by five African leaders, led by President Jacob Zuma, the African Union said it would increase the number of human rights and military observers deployed.

Burundi's political crisis was triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision in April to run for a third term, which he won in an election in July.

Since then violence has become routine, with more than 400 people killed and nearly 250000 leaving the country.

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