Burundi: debate centers on prosecutor's independence

10 July 2006 by Didace Kanyugu

A United Nations delegation traveled to Bujumbura from March 27-31 to continue negotiations in writing with the Burundian government with a view to establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and a Special Tribunal. On May 19, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs laid out the main points to be discussed. The Burundian government responded on June 15. The negotiations appear to center on the scope of the criminal proceedings and the issue of oversight.

In its correspondence, the UN raised three essential issues to be clarified: "The nature of the national consultation process that should lead to the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission; acknowledgement that amnesty will not apply to the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes; and the relationship between the Commission and the Special Tribunal." First, the UN underscored the need to consult with and inform the Burundian people about the creation of the TRC. Both parties agreed on this point. In its response, the inter-ministerial committee set up by the Burundian authorities and comprising the Minister of Foreign Relations, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Communication, said it was "aware of the necessity and the importance of democratizing the initial public comment process as much as possible, not only for educational purposes, but also in order to know the views and aspirations of the Burundian people and thereby give the Commission substance."

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