Avocats Sans Frontières, an international NGO specialised in defending human rights and supporting justice, has closed its operations in Burundi, Chimp Corps operate.
Known by its acronym, ASF, the organization said in a statement on Monday it was unable to comply with a set of new terms issued by Burundi’s Interior Ministry to regulate NGOs.
“After serious consideration, we believe that complying with some of the authorities’ demands would go against founding principles of ASF and its values,” said ASF.
Earlier this year, the Ministry suspended the operations of several international NGOs including ASF for failing to comply with the law on foreign NGOs adopted in January 2017.
The Ministry can only lift the suspension on condition that an application, made up of four documents, is submitted and approved before December 31, 2018.
Specifically these consist of a partnership agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a draft agreement with the Ministry of Justice, a commitment to respecting banking regulations and the law on Foreign NGOs, and a plan of action for implementing recruitment measures to ensure that the ethnic composition of our staff meets defined quotas.
ASF said in a statement: “With the deepest regret, after twenty uninterrupted years in Burundi, we must therefore close our offices in Bujumbura and leave the country on 31 December 2018.”
Bujumbura has for the last three years had tense relations with NGOs which government accuses of helping foreign elements hell-bent on destabilizing the country; working for multinational drug companies that promote homosexuality and producing weapons in order to “establish neocolonialism.”
The country slipped into anarchy in 2005 when President Pierre Nkurunziza faced street protests as he sought a third term in office.
Government now says the country is stable with masses going about their business without any interruption.
Amnesty international said the interior ministry’s measures are vague and amount to heavy-handed state interference into the internal affairs of nongovernmental organizations.
AFS said it remained “committed to working towards access to justice for the Burundian people, and we hope we can contribute to it again in the future.”
“We are extremely grateful to all the people, associations, and institutions that have supported our activities in Burundi since 1999, and we wish them the best of luck for the future.”