Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Burundi

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 14 June 2004
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Burundi, 14 June 2004, available at: [accessed 27 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Burundi (Tier 2)

Burundi is a source and transit country for children trafficked for the purpose of forced soldiering, and there are reports of coerced sexual exploitation of women by both government soldiers and rebel combatants. Armed groups have forcibly conscripted men, women, and children into combat.

Since the 1993 outbreak of the current civil conflict, the government and rebel groups have recruited or abducted about 14,000 children to serve in various capacities, including as porters, cooks, scouts, spies, and actual combatants. There were reports that some rebel groups forced girls into sexual slavery or to perform domestic duties. In conjunction with the UNICEF and the World Bank's Multi-Country Demobilization and Reintegration Program, the government initiated in late 2003 a program to demobilize child soldiers and reintegrate them into their communities, including those in the Burundian Army. Following issuance of an order from the Burundian Minister of Defense, the Burundian Army in early 2003 removed those under the age of 18 years from combat units, and relocated children associated with the armed forces from the front lines in preparation for demobilization. While the government no longer conscripts children into its ranks, rebel groups purportedly continue to recruit and use child soldiers. The government and UNICEF reported that prior to the commencement of the child soldiers' demobilization and reintegration program, there were approximately 1,000 child soldiers affiliated with the Burundian Armed Forces, 1,500 with a government paramilitary group, and 500 with two former rebel movements that signed cease-fire agreements in October 2002. An additional 3,000 to 4,000 child soldiers are associated with two other rebel groups, one of which joined the transitional government in November 2003.

The Government of Burundi does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The Burundian Army has made commendable progress toward demobilizing all child soldiers within its ranks. There is no legislation specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons. The government should continue its efforts to demobilize and reintegrate child soldiers, and enact specific anti-trafficking legislation.


A draft law awaits passage that specifically prohibits pornography, child sexual exploitation, and trafficking in persons. Existing laws criminalize trafficking-related activities such as rape, kidnapping, slavery, smuggling, and prostitution. Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation can be prosecuted under anti-slavery legislation and carries a penalty of up to life imprisonment or death, depending on the severity of the crime. Despite this legal framework, the government did not report any prosecutions, convictions, or sentences of traffickers during the year. However, the government is aggressively investigating cases of alleged trafficking in women that surfaced in late 2003. Air travel, the primary method by which individuals could be trafficked transnationally, is adequately monitored and law enforcement officials have identified some suspected traffickers.


In 2003, the government pledged to stop the recruitment of child soldiers and initiate demobilization programs. The government engaged local and international organizations to demobilize and reintegrate these children, including the provision of medical, educational, and psychological services. A ministerial committee has identified child soldiers within government forces and provides training for army officers on the illegality of their use. The committee has released reports on the plight of child soldiers and tracked efforts to demobilize and reintegrate them. Since the demobilization program began in December 2003, 524 child soldiers have been demobilized.


During the last year, the government made appreciable progress in preventing new incidents of trafficking. From June to August 2003, the government conducted a public advocacy and awareness campaign via local radio stations. It held seminars throughout Burundi, targeting army officers, civil servants, church groups, and civil society. The government has also trained army and other officials on the illegality of the use of child soldiers, and on the prevention of sexual abuse.

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