US urges Burundi to let rights researcher return


Burundi should allow the return of a human rights researcher expelled by the central African nation because of accusations she was biased against its government, the United States said.

The government on May 18 ordered Human Rights Watch’s Neela Ghoshal to leave, accusing her of disparaging its efforts to restore peace and security in Burundi, which is emerging from more than a decade of civil war that killed 300 000 people.

In a May 14 report, Human Rights Watch said political violence before local and national ballots could jeopardize Burundi’s efforts to build a multi-party democracy.

The human rights watchdog said the ruling CNDD-FDD party and rival Forces for National Liberation (FNL) had a hand in most of the violence that it had observed and that the police had failed to carry out proper investigations in many cases.

US State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley told reporters Washington found the decision to expel Ghoshal “troubling” and urged the government to reconsider.
“Human Rights Watch and other duly accredited nongovernmental organizations in Burundi must be afforded the legal right to engage, operate and report freely on political and human rights conditions within the country,” he said.

Human Rights Watch has defended Ghoshal’s integrity and stood behind her work, saying she had spent nearly three years documenting rights abuses in Burundi and that her reports were thorough, balanced and objective.

A Human Rights Watch official said Ghoshal left Burundi yesterday.

Pic: Burundi police force