Justice at a standstill

06 November 2006 by Thierry Cruvellier

More than a year after the CNDD-FDD party came to power in Bujumbura, negotiations between the Burundian government and the UN on the creation of semi-international legal institutions have come to a standstill. The criminal proceedings mechanism envisaged by the United Nations has been rejected by the new government, which is responsible for an increasing number of human rights violations. The government feels that the chief objective of the second mechanism, a truth and reconciliation commission, should henceforth be to pardon, which the UN views as amnesty. Thus the hope for justice for mass crimes committed in Burundi over the past forty years seems to be dwindling.

In June 2005, the UN set a rough deadline - 30 September - for the Burundian government to agree to set up a "dual mechanism" of justice for serious crimes perpetrated in this small central African country. De facto, Bujumbura has rebuffed the entire offer. An initial squall got the better of this suddenly ambitious agenda: the landslide electoral victory of the former rebel group CNDD-FDD. New York realised that the new leaders needed time to take over the sensitive and technical negotiations, but a year later, it is clear that the relationship between the two partners in this important judicial project is at an all-time low.

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