“It would be a tragedy if the international community proves itself incapable of forestalling a crisis that will affect not only Burundi, but a region with a very complicated history,” said de Greiff.
In a telephone interview on Thursday, UN Special Rapporteur on transitional justice said inaction on Burundi demonstrates that the “international architecture is showing its cracks” in dealing with a crisis that has resulted in some 200 deaths and more than 200,000 refugees.
However, the Colombian points out that the current international system is the “best we have and we need to make it work”, saying that this “should not be impossible for the international community to deal with”.
The UN Security Council is “very badly divided” on Burundi, said de Greiff, despite three reports on the human rights situation presented to the council since the outbreak of violence in April.
“It seems to me to have very little to do with the inherent difficulties of the case and much more to do with the calculations of some of the members of the council,” said de Greiff. The UN Security Council last week said it would support the African Union in its stance on Burundi.
The African Union has said it will level sanctions at those perpetrating violence, produce an investigation into human rights abuses and increase the number of military experts and human rights observers. The regional bloc also floated the idea of a possible military intervention if the situation deteriorates further.
“I think it would be good to have better reporting altogether,” said de Greiff. “There aren’t sufficient monitors on the ground, this is something that is at the basis of any plausible solution,” he added.
Up to 250,000 more people in Burundi may need humanitarian assistance in the coming months due to the violence, experts have warned.
When asked about a possible investigation by the International Criminal Court into rights abuses in Burundi, de Greiff said there are “good grounds for the court to establish preliminary examinations”.