Article 5 Initiative activities take place in Burundi

Prof Lukas Muntingh and Gwen Dereymaeker went to Burundi from 18 to 20 August 2014 as part of the Article 5 Initiative activities. The Article 5 Initiative is a four-year project aimed at developing tools to monitor domestication of the UN Convention against Torture in 6 African countries.

On 18 August, the A5I facilitated a seminar of civil society organisations aimed at preparing the upcoming review of Burundi by the UN Committee against Torture. Some civil society organisations who participated in the seminar are in the process of finalising a shadow report, but other participants had limited knowledge of the process. The purpose of the seminar was therefore to better understand the aim and process of a review by a treaty monitoring body such a CAT.

The second part of the seminar then aimed at developing an advocacy strategy around the CAT session, in particular after the session. Civil society organisations agreed on the need to do more advocacy work following the session, to ensure that there is public awareness on the recommendations made by CAT, as well as state commitment to act on the CAT recommendations.

On 19 and 20 August, the A5I provided training to the Commission Nationale Indépendante des Droits de l’Homme, the Burundian National Human Rights Commission, on monitoring places of detention. After training the Commissioners on a monitoring tool developed for the Burundian context, the Commissioners and A5I team went to the Mpimba prison to test the monitoring tool and refine it.

The visit allowed the Commissioners to get immediate hands-on experience based on a tool specifically developed for the context in which they operate. There has been a keen interest from the Commission in reinforcing their technical capacity to monitor places of detention, especially in the context of the recent ratification of OPCAT by Burundi and the need to develop a National Preventive Mechanism. The Commission is one of the possible institutions that could take up this role.