1 July 2015
Brussels/Bujumbura, 1 July 2015 – Against the backdrop of an extremely serious political crisis, ASF and its partners continue working to ensure access to justice for all in Burundi. ASF and the bar association at Bujumbura Court of Appeal have recently signed an agreement renewing and shaping their partnership up to 2021. The signing of this agreement symbolises the spirit of complementarity underlying the relationship between ASF and its partners in the countries where it is active.
The President’s announcement that he intends to stand in the presidential elections on 15 July has thrown Burundi into a deep political crisis during the last few weeks. However, this exceptional situation does not signal an end to the population’s need for access to justice – far from it.
ASF and the bar association at Bujumbura Court of Appeal have just signed an agreement creating the framework for a special partnership aimed at improving access to justice for all in Burundi.
“Our partnership is based on a spirit of independence from governments and political groups, together with mutual respect for the diversity of cultures, values, beliefs and opinions”, explains Céline Lemmel, ASF Head of Mission in Burundi.
This agreement formalises more than ten years’ cooperation in providing services to ensure better access to justice. “It’s much more than a paper agreement. Specifically, ASF and the bar association set up free legal consultation and judicial assistance services for those who are particularly vulnerable in Burundi”, according to the Head of Mission. In 2014-2015, more than 7,700 people were able to receive assistance enabling them to exercise their rights.
For Mr Salvator Kiyuku, president of the bar association at Bujumbura Court of Appeal, this partnership is above all a matter of credibility: “ASF has extensive international expertise in the area of training and legal assistance. So, they are a reliable partner and sharing this experience saves us a lot of time”.
Despite the extremely tense situation in Bujumbura in the run-up to elections, in some of the country’s provinces both partners are pressing ahead with their efforts to uphold the rights of all those seeking justice.
In Burundi, as in other countries, ASF and its different partners – bar associations, civil society organisations and public institutions – work together on an equal footing to achieve specific goals.
“We see the partnership as a relationship of trust and complementarity. ASF complements our skills, enabling us to fulfil our mission to help people seeking justice”, confirms Mr Kiyuku.
For the 2014-2015 period, ASF has ongoing partnerships with 30 local organisations in twelve countries where it is active. All of these agreements are based on the principle of mutual support between ASF and its partners – helping to bring about sustainable change in order to achieve accessible, effective and efficient justice.