EU 'concern' for multiple Burundi rights violations
(BUJUMBURA) - The European Union delegation in Burundi has expressed "concern" over multiple violations of human rights and justice in the small central African country.
A spate of extrajudicial killings is "intolerable" EU ambassador in Burundi Stephane de Loecker said late Friday after a six-hour meeting with government ministers and other European ambassadors.
"We made very clear our view," Loecker said, adding that while the number of murders had recently decreased, the situation remained "disturbing."
Conflict-ravaged Burundi has been rocked by violence in recent years, with murders and attacks claiming several lives, sparking fears of a return to full blown war.
The UN Security Council in December expressed "grave concern" about killings linked to security forces and harassment of opposition groups, with at least 57 extrajudicial and suspicious deaths recorded in 2011.
Rights groups say there have been hundreds of killings which they blamed on government agents.
They say these have increased since elections in July 2010 which were won by President Pierre Nkurunziza's ruling party but were boycotted by the opposition.
The EU repeated calls for probes into the killings, stressing that an independent and efficient judiciary is a key element in reconciliation and the development of society.
"Corruption is a problem for Burundi... we cannot fight against corruption without justice, without a judicial system that works," Loecker said.
However, he said the EU would maintain its current funding of up to 100 million euros (131 million dollars) a year, noting Burundi was a "priority" country.
Burundian Foreign Minister Laurent Kavakure said the government was working hard to improve the situation, noting Burundi was still struggling from the impact of its brutal 1993-2006 civil war, in which some 300,000 people died.
"The government is working to improve them... the situation is changing quickly and for the better," Kavakure said.
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