• EN - English
Motion for a resolution - B9-0066/2020Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Burundi, notably freedom of expression

14.1.2020 - (2020/2502(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 144 of the Rules of Procedure

Jan‑Christoph Oetjen, Andrus Ansip, Malik Azmani, Phil Bennion, Stéphane Bijoux, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Gilles Boyer, Sylvie Brunet, Catherine Chabaud, Dita Charanzová, Olivier Chastel, Engin Eroglu, Fredrick Federley, Klemen Grošelj, Christophe Grudler, Bernard Guetta, Antony Hook, Ivars Ijabs, Irena Joveva, Ondřej Kovařík, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Karen Melchior, Shaffaq Mohammed, Urmas Paet, Frédérique Ries, María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos, Susana Solís Pérez, Ramona Strugariu, Marie‑Pierre Vedrenne, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou
on behalf of the Renew Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0054/2020

Procedure : 2020/2502(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
Texts tabled :
Texts adopted :


European Parliament resolution on Burundi, notably freedom of expression


The European Parliament,

-  having regard to its previous resolutions on Burundi, notably those of 9 July 2015, 17 December 2015, 19 January 2017, 6 July 2017 and 5 July 2018,


-  having regard to the European Commission decision on “the individual measure in favour of the Republic of Burundi”, on 19 November 2019;


-  having regard to the European Commission decision on the financing of the 2019 annual action programme for the Republic of Burundi, on 30 October 2019;


-  having regard to the revised Cotonou Agreement, in particular Article 96 thereof,


-  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,


-  having regard to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,


-  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,


-  having regard to the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance,


-  having regard to the Arusha Agreement of 28 August 2000;


-  having regard to the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders of 21 June 2016;


-  having regard to the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Burundi at the 29th session of the UPR Working Group in January 2018;


-  having regard to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Resolution on the impact of social media on governance, development, democracy and stability (ACP-EU/102.745/19/fin) of 28 November 2019;


-  having regard to the statement on the human rights situation in Burundi, of the Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (DACP) of 26 June 2017;


-  having regard to United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2248 (2015) of 12 November 2015 and 2303 (2016) of 29 July 2016 on the situation in Burundi,


-  having regard to the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi released on September 4th 2019;


-  having regard to Council Decision (EU) 2016/394 of 14 March 2016 concerning the conclusion of consultations with the Republic of Burundi under Article 96 of the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part,


-  having regard to Rule 144 of its Rules of Procedure,

  1. whereas a new code of conduct for the 2020 electorate period was presented by the National Communications Council of Burundi;
  2. whereas Burundi is ranked as a Least Developed Country (LDC) and is in a state of continuing socio-economic deterioration with a penultimate place in the global GDP per capita ranking; whereas around 3,6 million Burundians (30 % of the population) are in need of financial aid and 1,7 million suffer from insecurity; whereas less than 5% of Burundian households have access to electricity; whereas less than 2% of Burundians have access to internet; whereas approximately 50% of the State budget of Burundi is dependent on foreign aid;
  3. Whereas Burundi has faced a political, human rights and humanitarian crisis between April 2015 and 2018; whereas this crisis has spilled over into 2019; whereas 2020 will be a crucial year for Burundi, with presidential, parliamentary and local elections taking place;
  4. whereas during this crisis the Burundian people have increasingly become subject and vulnerable to politically motivated violence and human rights abuses; whereas the Imbonerakure are a notorious youth wing extension of the ruling National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for Defence and Democracy (CNDD-FDD) known for their politically motivated crimes, extrajudicial killings, banditry and torture;
  5. whereas in October 2016 the United Nations released a report (A/HRC/33/37) of the UN Independent Investigation in Burundi; whereas following this report, the government of Burundi decided to suspend all cooperation with the UN Human Rights Office in Burundi; whereas as a result, on 5 March 2019, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet announced the closure of the UN Human Rights Office in Burundi on 28 February after a 23-year presence;
  6. whereas media freedom in Burundi has been on a steady decline since its political and human rights crisis in 2015; whereas Burundian independent media outlets face increased harassment by Burundian authorities; whereas the National Communication Council (CNC) suspended the Voice of America (VOA) in May 2018 and the suspension was extended in March 2019 until further notice; whereas the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) operating license were withdrawn in March 2019 until further notice, their office in Burundi was closed in July 2019; whereas Burundian authorities continue to subject independent journalists to arbitrary arrests; whereas civil and human rights organisations in Burundi lack a civil space to pursue their activities, such as holding authorities accountable for corruption and political violence;
  7. whereas Reporters Without Borders ranks Burundi 159th out of 180 in its 2019 World Press Freedom Index; whereas freedom of expression, freedom of speech are vital to ensuring free and informed elections; whereas free, independent and non-partial journalism represents an extension of the fundamental human rights of freedom of speech; whereas state controlled traditional media such as Radio and newspaper remain dominant sources of information; whereas strengthening media literacy and access to internet and social media are necessary to enable access to information, strengthen social and political stability and -dialogue and thereby ensure free, informed and just elections;
  8. whereas on 22nd October 2019, the Burundian police arrested journalists Térence Mpozenzi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Christine Kamikazi and Egide Harerimana, of Iwacu, an independent media organisation in Burundi and their driver Adolphe Masabarakiza; whereas on 26th October 2019, the Burundian State officially accused the journalists of “complicity in threatening state security”; whereas they are in custody since their arrest; whereas on 30th December 2019, Burundi’s public prosecutor requested a 15-year prison term for the four journalists and their driver during their trial hearing; whereas the judges adjourned to deliberate and the verdict is due within the next 30 days;
  9. whereas on 14 March 2016, the EU has found Burundi to be in violation of Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement; whereas, as a consequence, the EU has suspended all direct financial support to the Burundian administration;
  10. whereas the EU continues to provide for humanitarian aid and assistance in support of the Burundian public; whereas the EU continues to administer the European Development Fund to ensure that projects with direct social impact, such as infrastructure, development aid, support of non-state organisations and food security;
  11. whereas part of a joint decree from the Finance and Internal Affairs Ministries allows that part  of the salary of civil servant is retained since Januray 2018 to pay for the 2020 election process;
  12. whereas according to the UNHCR, 352,000 refugees were in neighbouring countries as at 31 March 2019; whereas a total of 61,685 refugees voluntarily returned to Burundi in 2017 and 2018; whereas 130,562 are internally displaced as at 28 February 2019;
  1. is deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Burundi, which undermines the initiative for reconciliation, peace and justice; deplores the continued oppression of freedom of speech and freedom of expression in Burundi;
  2. remains deeply concerned over the political situation in Burundi, the slow progress of the inter Burundian dialogue led by the East African Community and the lack of engagement by the Government of Burundi in that regard and calls for all the Burundian stakeholders to participate actively and unconditionally in this process;
  3. Calls on the Government of Burundi to fully respect the Arusha Agreement as the main instrument for peace and stability in the country; calls on the Government of Burundi to respect its international legal obligations regarding human and civil rights, and to promote and protect the rights of freedom of expression and association enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Burundi is a State party;
  4. Recalls that the Arusha Peace and reconciliation Agreement also provides the strengthening of democracy, good governance, pluralism and the rule of law; stresses that a free, open and unrestricted inter-Burundian dialogue remains the only viable option for resolving the political crisis and the holding of peaceful elections in 2020;


  1. fears the increase risks of electoral violence and people joining armed opposition groups which leads to a continued deterioration of social stability, sending Burundi into a continuous descent into authoritarianism, raising prospects of another major crisis with regional repercussions;


  1. Calls on the Government of Burundi to drop charges and immediately release the recently jailed journalists Christine Kamikazi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Egide Harerimana, and Térence Mpozenzi ; stresses the vital role played by civil society and journalists in a democratic society, particularly with the upcoming elections;


  1. expresses its concerns following the 2018 constitutional referendum, which approved amendments that could allow Burundi’s President, Pierre Nkurunziza to stay in power until 2034; welcomes his decision of, not to stand in the next presidential elections;
  2. notes the commitments made by Burundian authorities through the voice of Ezechiel Nibigira, Minister of Foreign Affairs, at UN General Assembly on 30 September 2019,to ensure peaceful elections, including through the promotion of freedom of expression, allowing the creation of new political parties, the reintegration of refugees and political exiles and the release of more than 2,000 prisoners in 2019;
  3. expresses deep concerns, however over the latest United Nations Commission of Inquiry Report of 4 September 2019 on Burundi, which addresses extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions carried out by the Imbonerakure, as well as acts of torture and ill-treatment and rape against actual or alleged political opposition members;
  4.  expresses great concerns on the  continued impunity of perpetrators of human rights violations, committed by the Imbonerakure in 2015; regrets the decision of Burundian authorities of July 2019, to name the leader of the Imbonerakure as head of the public broadcasting network RTNB; urges the Burundian authorities to undertake effective, independent and impartial investigations into and prosecutions of cases of impunity and state corruption
  5. denounces the intimidation, repression, violence and harassment of journalists and human rights defenders; calls on the Burundian authorities to put an end to the arbitrary arrest of independent journalists, to respect the rule of law and fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of the media;
  6. recalls the Government of Burundi that the conditions for holding inclusive, credible, peaceful and transparent elections imply the right to freedom of expression, access to information, freedom of the press, freedom of media and the existence of a free area in which human rights defenders can speak out without intimidation or fear of reprisals; urges the Burundian authorities therefore to lift measures that limit or obstruct the work of civil society, and that limit access to and freedom of independent traditional and modern media;
  7. deplores the threats, intimidation and personal attacks against members of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi as well as the lack of follow-up to the recommendations made;
  8. repeats it regret of the decision of Burundi to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2017; urges the continuation of preliminary investigations into the extensive crimes and acts of repression in Burundi; calls on the international community to continue to push for accountability for crimes committed against humanity in Burundi;
  9. calls the Government of Burundi to end the practice of non-voluntary and forced financial contributions to the organisation of elections; recalls the availability of the European election assistance including technical or material support given to the electoral process;
  10. Reaffirms its support for the EU’s decision, following the consultation with the Burundian authorities under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, to suspend direct financial support to the Government of Burundi; recalls that the EU is still support the Burundian population through the 11th European development found; recalls the increase of the amount from 95 billion euros to 121 billion on 30 October 2019;
  11. Calls on EU and EU member states diplomats in Burundi to ensure the full implementation of the EU guidelines on human rights defenders, including in particular by attending trial hearings and by visiting unjustly jailed human rights defenders, activists and journalists in prison.
  12. Recommends Burundian authorities to work with the EU on development cooperation so as to increase and secure access to basic needs for the Burundian people, such as access to clean water, food security, access to education, to electricity, and access to internet;
  13. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Government and Parliament of Burundi, the ACP-EU Council of Ministers, the Commission, the Council, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the EU Member States, the member countries and institutions of the African Union, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Last updated: 14 January 2020
Legal notice - Privacy policy