GENEVA, March 6, 2019 -- The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet announced Tuesday, "with deep regret," that the UN Human Rights Office in Burundi has closed at the insistence of the Central African nation's government.
UN rights office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani at a media briefing here quoted Bachelet as saying, "It is with deep regret that we have had to close our office in Burundi after a 23-year presence in the country" from Feb. 28.
"Since the UN Human Rights Office in Burundi was established in 1995, for many years we worked with the government on peace-building, security sector reform, justice sector reform and helped build institutional and civil society capacity on a whole host of human rights issues," she said.
Shamdasani said the office played a leading role in the establishment of the independent National Commission on Human Rights, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in legislative reforms and the emergence of active civil society organizations in Burundi.
Many of these human rights gains had been jeopardized since 2015, said Shamdasani.
Two years after the suspension of cooperation, on Dec. 5, the Burundi government requested the closure of the UN Human Rights Office.
It asserted that Burundi had made sufficient progress in putting in place national mechanisms for the protection of human rights, so the existence of the office was no longer justified.