Burundi: The National Independent Human Rights Commission (CNIDH) invited Protection International to a roundtable to discuss the issues affecting HRDs in the country and to analyse the contents of a draft public law to protect HRDs, prepared by the CNIDH.
Protection International contributed by sharing its expertise in the following areas:
• providing details of similar legislative processes in Latin America, where some public policies on the protection for HRDs have already been implemented
• sharing a compilation of best practices and lessons learnt identified by PI.
• analysing the draft law and making suggestions about enriching its contents.
The Burundian experience will also add to PI’s expertise. We will learn from their journey and share it with other HRDs in different countries.
Despite the shrinking of freedoms for Human Rights Defenders in Burundi, local civil society continues to organise themselves and to come up with ways of protecting themselves, whilst pointing out that the main duty of the State regarding defenders is to provide them with special protection.
With the support of the United Nations Office in Burundi, on 20 March, the National Independent Human Rights Commission (CNIDH) organised a roundtable on the situation of HRDs, involving a large group of local civil society organisations, which followed on from a consultation process that had begun early in 2013.
On this occasion, the aim of the meeting was to provide an update on the current threats and risks faced by HRDs; to analyse the contents of a draft law to protect HRDs prepared by the CNIDH; to share comparable experiences from other countries with similar initiatives; and to agree on a way forward to promote such a law and any other initiative leading to the same goal.
Protection International (PI) contributed by sharing details of similar legislative processes in Latin America, where some public policies on the protection for HRDs have already been implemented, as well as a compilation of best practices and lessons learnt, which had been identified by PI. We also analysed the draft law and made suggestions about enriching its contents.
The Burundian organisations presented the initiatives carried out by them, such as the spontaneous creation of a national coalition of civil society organisations. After the roundtable, the participants agreed to prepare an advocacy strategy in order to promote the approval of the draft law and raise awareness, with the involvement of the media, of the legitimacy of the work of HRDs in Burundi.
Protection International (PI) will continue supporting the CNIDH and the initiatives launched by the Burundian civil society, not only to strengthen the protection measures for local HRDs, but also because this Burundian experience can lead to some successful strategies from which PI can learn and share with other HRDs in different countries.