Last Updated: Friday, 11 July 2014, 13:14 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Burundi

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 27 August 2008
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Burundi, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa4635.html [accessed 11 July 2014]
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.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor534
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2000:31.2
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2000:32.3
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2000:30.1
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:16
Compulsory education age:12
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:82
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:58
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2000:41.9
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2007:67
ILO-IPEC participating country:Associated
* Must pay for miscellaneous school expenses

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Burundi work in subsistence agriculture, family-based businesses, construction, mining and brick-making, and in the informal sector.535 Increasing rates of HIV/AIDS have led to greater numbers of orphans and, consequently, street children.536 Street children are involved in activities such as hawking goods, or working as porters, which may involve heavy loads.537 Children also work as domestic servants, and some have reported not being paid for wages.538 There have also been reports that children are engaged in commercial sexual exploitation.539

Despite signing a cease-fire agreement with the Government, during the reporting period the rebel group, Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People/National Liberation Front continued to recruit children, sometimes forcibly.540 UNICEF reported that Government's armed forces did not use children as combatants, but there were reports that the military used children for menial tasks.541 Reports also indicate that the Government has illegally detained former child soldiers who served in rebel groups rather than provide them with services such as demobilization and reintegration.542

There are conflicting reports that Burundi remains a source country for the internal trafficking of children for the purpose of child soldiers.543 Children in Burundi are trafficked within the country for the purposes of domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation.544

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment in Burundi is 16 years.545 Children 12 to 16 years are permitted to engage in light work or apprenticeships that do not jeopardize their health, development, or ability to attend and benefit from school.546 Children under 16 years may work a maximum of 6 hours per day, are prohibited from working at night, and must have rest periods of at least 12 hours between work sessions.547 The law allows for medical examinations to determine if a child's work causes undue physical stress.548 Employers found in violation of the provisions for the work of young persons are subject to fines and, for repeat offenses, closure of the place of employment.549

The law prohibits forced labor, except in special circumstances such as military service, civic obligations in the public interest, or as a result of a judicial decision.550 Inciting, exploiting, or facilitating the prostitution of persons under 21years are subject to fines and imprisonment of up to 10 years. Offenses against the decency of a child are punishable by prison terms of 5 to 15 years.551 The law does not specifically prohibit trafficking; however, traffickers can be prosecuted under laws against assault, fraud, kidnapping, rape, prostitution, and slavery, and may face up to 20 years in prison.552 By law, the minimum age for military recruitment is 16 years, although the Government reports that it does not recruit those under 18 years in practice.553 The Ministry of Defense has issued instructions that soldiers found to be forcing children to perform menial work be disciplined, with punishments ranging from a reduction in pay to confinement.554

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing child labor laws.555 According to USDOS, enforcement is based on the filing of complaints due, at least in part, to a lack of labor inspectors.556

Burundi was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Joint Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central African Regions.557 As part of the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement, the governments agreed to use the child trafficking monitoring system developed by the USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC LUTRENA project; to assist each other in the investigation, arrest and prosecution of trafficking offenders; and to protect, rehabilitate, and reintegrate trafficking victims.558

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In 2007, the Government of Burundi continued to counter the prostitution of children through its Special Unit for the Protection of Underage Children and Social Ethics and the Brigade for the Protection of Women and Children, which investigates instances of forced prostitution and works to improve the living conditions of affected children.559 The Government also supported awareness raising activities and organized seminars with NGOs to address the issue of street children and internal trafficking.560 The Ministry of National Solidarity and Human Rights also raised awareness about the forced labor nature of child soldiers to dispel the negative stigma that some associate with former child soldiers.561

Further, the Government of Burundi's National Demobilization, Reinsertion, and Reintegration Program continued activities that demobilize child soldiers and prevent the recruitment of ex-combatant child soldiers. These activities were originally funded under a World Bank umbrella grant; and since June 2006, the Government and UNICEF have continued to provide support so these children may receive education and vocational training.562 The Government has also helped to provide income-generating projects for former child soldiers.563

The Government participated in a global USD 7 million USDOL-funded project, implemented by ILO-IPEC, to prevent the involvement of children in armed conflict and support the rehabilitation of former child soldiers. The project withdrew 4,335 children from child soldiering and prevented 4,560 children from involvement with armed groups in seven countries, including Burundi.564

In 2007, the Government of Norway also launched a year-long, USD 1.275 million regional project in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi, implemented by ILO-IPEC, to prevent the involvement of children in armed conflict and support the rehabilitation of former child soldiers.565 The Government is also participating in the implementation of a monitoring system on the use of children in armed conflict under UN Security Council Resolution 1612.566


534 For statistical data not cited here, see the Data Sources and Definitions section. For data on ratifications and ILO-IPEC membership, see the Executive Summary. For minimum age for admission to work, age to which education is compulsory, and free public education, see Government of Burundi, Décret loi no. 1/037 du 7 juillet 1993 portant révision du Code du travail, title I chapter I article 3; available from http://natlex.ilo.org/txt/F93BDI01.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Burundi," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100469.htm.

535 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Burundi," section 6d. See also U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, October 5, 2007. See also U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, October 5, 2007.

536 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Burundi." See also International AIDS Society, "Burundi's experience in the reduction of the HIV/AIDS impact on orphans", [previously online], July 12, 2004 [cited December 11, 2007]; available from http://www.iasociety.org/abstract/show.asp?abstract_id=2171384.

537 Iteka, Bulletin d'Information de la Ligue Burundaise des Droits de l'Homme ITEKA, July, 2007, 11; available from http://www.ligue-iteka.africa-web.org/IMG/pdf/Bulletin_ITEKA_no99_juillet_2007.pdf. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Burundi: Focus on Street Children", IRINnews.org, [online], June 15, 2004 [cited December 11, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=50237.

538 Human Rights Watch, Paying the Price: Violations of the Rights of Children in Detention in Burundi, New York, March, 2007; available from http://hrw.org/reports/2007/burundi0307.

539 U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting December 3, 2007. para 2. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Burundi: Humanitarian Country Profile", IRINnews.org, [online], February 1, 2007 [cited December 11, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/country-profile.aspx. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Burundi," section 6d.

540 UN Secretary-General, Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict in Burundi, November 28, 2007, para 7, 16, and 18; available from http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N07/593/11/PDF/N0759311.pdf?OpenElement. See also ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Reintegration of Children Involved in Armed Conflict: An Inter-Regional Programme, Technical Progress Report, Geneva, September 2006, 2. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Burundi," section 5.

541 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Burundi," section 1g. See also U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, October 5, 2007, para IV, B.

542 UN Secretary-General, Report of the Secretary-General 2007, para 29-32. See also Human Rights Watch, Burundi: Former Child Soldiers Languish in Custody, New York, June 16, 2006; available from http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/06/15/burund13554_txt.htm.

543 U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 3. See also U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, October 5, 2007, para 3.

544 U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, June 7, 2007, para 8. See also U.S. Department of State, "Burundi (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report-2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm. See also ECPAT International CSEC Database, Burundi, accessed December 2, 2007; available from http://www.ecpat.net.

545 Government of Burundi, Décret loi no. 1/037 du 7 juillet 1993 portant révision du Code du travail, title V, chapter VI, article 126.

546 ILO Committee of Experts, Individual Direct Request, Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Burundi (ratification: 2000), [online] 2006 [cited October 3, 2006]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgi-lex/pdconv.pl?host=status01&textbase=iloeng&document=18479&chapter=9&query=%28C138%2CC182%29+%4 0ref+%2B+%28Burundi%29+%40ref&highlight=&querytype=bool&context=0. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Burundi," section 5.

547 ILO Committee of Experts, Individual Direct Request C138: Burundi. See also Government of Burundi, Décret loi no. 1/037 du 7 juillet 1993 portant révision du Code du travail, title V, chapter 4, articles 119-120.

548 Government of Burundi, Décret loi no. 1/037 du 7 juillet 1993 portant révision du Code du travail, title V, chapter 6, article 128.

549 ILO Committee of Experts, Individual Direct Request C138: Burundi.

550 Government of Burundi, Décret loi no. 1/037 du 7 juillet 1993 portant révision du Code du travail, title I, section 1, article 2.

551 Government of Burundi, Offenses Against Public Morals, articles 372 and 382; available from http://209.190.246.239/protectionproject/statutesPDF/BurundiF.pdf. See also ECPAT International CSEC Database, Burundi.

552 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Burundi," section 5.

553 U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, October 5, 2007, para 2.

554 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Burundi," section 1g. See also U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, October 5, 2007.

555 Government of Burundi, Décret loi no. 1/037 du 7 juillet 1993 portant révision du Code du travail, title V, chapter VI, article 128.

556 U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting December 3, 2007. para 2. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Burundi," section 6d.

557 Catholic Relief Services official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, October 2, 2006, ECOWAS and ECCAS, Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central Africa, Abuja, July 7, 2006. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), Technical Progress Report, Washington, DC, September 1, 2006, 2.

558 ECOWAS and ECCAS, Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons in West and Central Africa, 5-7. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), Technical Progress Report, 10-11.

559 U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 13. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Burundi," section 5.

560 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Burundi," section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 14.

561 U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 15.

562 Multi-Country Demobilization and Reintegration Program, MRDP Fact Sheet: Burundi, [online] February 2008 [cited March 12, 2008]; available from http://www.mdrp.org/PDFs/MDRP_BUR_FS_0208.pdf. See also Multi – Country Demobilization and Reintegration Program, The Social and Economic Status of Beneficiaries of the Burundi Child Soldier Demobilization, Social Reintegration and Recruitment Prevention Special Project 2007, 1; available from http://www.mdrp.org/in_focus_right.htm. See also Olalekan Ajia, UN Special Representative Commends Demobilization of Child Soldiers in Burundi, [online] March 27, 2007 [cited April 1, 2007]; available from http://www.unicef.org/protection/burundi_39232.html?q=printme.

563 U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, October 5, 2007, para 2. See also U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 12.

564 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Reintegration of Children Involved in Armed Conflict: An Inter-Regional Program, Project Document, ILO, Geneva, September 17, 2003. See also ILO-IPEC Geneva official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, March 14, 2008.

565 ILO-IPEC Geneva official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, December 12, 2007.

566 Olalekan Ajia, UN Special Representative Commends Demobilization of Child Soldiers in Burundi, Bujumbura, March 27, 2007; available from http://www.unicef.org/protection/burundi_39232.html.

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