GENEVA, 25 June 2013 / PRNewswire Africa / - IPU is repeating calls on authorities in Burundi to immediately release two imprisoned politicians following a four-day mission to the country.
Led by the President of IPU's Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, Kassoum Tapo, the mission visited former MPs Gerard Nkurunziza and Hussein Radjabu in detention last week.
Nkurunziza was a member of the dissident wing of the ruling political party when he was taken into custody in 2008 for allegedly supplying arms for a coup against the government. Despite no supporting evidence and no weapons being seized, he has remained in prison ever since and never been put on trial.
"Gerard Nkurunziza has been stuck in jail for five years while being subjected to endless judicial delays," said Tapo. "Justice delayed is justice denied and we fully expect authorities to keep their assurances that his case will be resolved in a matter of weeks."
IPU is also pushing for the early release of senior political dissident Hussein Radjabu, for which he is legally eligible having served more than a quarter of his sentence. Radjabu was sentenced to 13 years in prison for subversion in April 2008 in a case marked by grave irregularities.
The mission, which was grateful for the co-operation of the Burundian authorities, welcomed the release of two other dissident MPs Pasteur Mpawenayo and Deo Nshirimana, who were held in preventive detention for four years before their acquittal in 2012.
IPU was encouraged to learn that Burundi's Parliamentary Commission on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians will continue to actively follow up on all the cases.
Tapo also expressed hope that the proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission will be independent and effective enough to shed light on the episodes of violence that have plagued Burundi since independence from Belgium in 1962, including the assassination of key political leaders in the 1990s.
The Burundi visit was part of a two-country mission by IPU's Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to the region, which also addressed cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
â€œWe have the tools required to reach the Global Plan's goals, and recent data show that we are moving ever closer to their realization,â€ said Ambassador Eric P. Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. "This month, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced, the one millionth baby will be born HIV-free due to PEPFAR's support. Now, we must all continue working together to see the day when no children are born with HIV, which is within our reach," he added.
The report however also reveals that only half of all breastfeeding women living with HIV or their children receive antiretroviral medicines to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. It outlines that breastfeeding is critical to ensuring child survival and strongly emphasizes the urgent need to provide antiretroviral therapy during the breastfeeding period.
More than half of the children eligible for treatment in South Africa and Swaziland now have access. Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe have doubled the numbers of children accessing treatment from 2009 to 2012. While the report outlines that the number of children requiring HIV treatment will reduce as new HIV infections decline, urgent steps need to be taken to improve early diagnosis of HIV in children and ensure timely access to antiretroviral treatment.
The number of pregnant women living with HIV receiving antiretroviral therapy for their own health has increased since 2009. In Botswana, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia, more than 75% of the pregnant women eligible receive antiretroviral therapy and more than 50% in Kenya, Lesotho, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Increasing access to antiretroviral therapy for pregnant women living with HIV for their own health is critical.
The Global Plan towards elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive is an initiative spearheaded by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United States Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) which was unveiled in June 2011 at the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS. It has two main targets for 2015: a 90% reduction in the number of children newly infected with HIV and a 50% reduction in the number of AIDS-related maternal deaths. The Plan focuses on the 22* countries which account for 90% of new HIV infections among children.
This second progress report presents the progress made by the 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and some of the challenges they face in meeting the agreed targets for 2015.
SOURCE: Inter-Parliamentary Union