Burundi: EU to Lift Financial Sanctions

The move Follows the country's remarkable improvement on human rights and governance.

The European Union (EU) has announced the lifting of financial sanctions against Burundi. The decision was made public on June 21, 2021 by the European Union, Ambassador to Burundi, Claude Bochu during a press briefing that capped an audience with Burundian President, Evariste Ndayishimiye. The lifting of sanctions according to Xinhua news agency, follows positive progress initiated by President Ndayishimiye in terms of promoting governance, rule of law and human rights, the pardoning of four journalists and release of more than 2,500 prisoners.

Mr Bochu added that though more positive results are still expected from the Burundian authorities, the EU together with other partners like the African Development Bank are going to finance the rehabilitation of the Port of Bujumbura and its surroundings before the end of this year, contribute funds to revamp the agricultural sector.

In March 2016, the EU suspended its direct financial support to the Burundian government following the political crisis sparked by the controversial third term bid of then President, Pierre Nkurunziza and blacklisted some of the regime's henchmen. But at the end of May 2021, the EU working groups unanimously gave the direction to the bloc's judicial institutions to revoke the suspension of the financial aid paving the way for a new era of relations and development assistance.

The move has however not been welcomed by a group of 12 NGOs. In an open letter to EU Foreign Ministers on Monday, June 21, 2021 the NGOs pleaded on the bloc not to relax sanctions against Burundi until the regime stops persecuting journalists and human rights activists. According to them, political opponents are being arrested and mistreated on a daily basis, the NGOs said in the letter, adding that, "The EU should not rely on promises of human rights reforms from the Burundian authorities, but should instead insist on them to meet concrete benchmarks," the 12 NGOs, including Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists, emphasized. If their plea is given a positive mark, EU sanctions that are expected to expire on October 2021, will be renewed for another year.

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