Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Burundi

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 10 September 2009
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Burundi, 10 September 2009, available at: [accessed 28 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.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Population, children, 5-14 years, 2000:2,162,500
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 (%), 2006:103.2
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2006:74.6
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2000:41.9
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2005:87.9
ILO Convention 138:7/19/2000
ILO Convention 182:6/11/2002
ILO-IPEC participating country:Associated

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Burundi work primarily in agriculture, herding, fishing, and the informal sector. A research project in Burundi found that children in rural areas are more likely to work exclusively and not attend school than those in urban areas. In urban areas, a large number of street children are involved in activities such as hawking goods or working as porters, which may involve carrying heavy loads. Children also work long hours as domestic servants, and some have reported not being paid wages owed. There have also been reports that children are victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

The rebel group, Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People/National Liberation Front is still recruiting and using child soldiers in its camps, despite a cease-fire agreement that was signed and in effect since 2007.

Children in Burundi are trafficked internally for the purposes of child soldiering, domestic service, and commercial sexual exploitation. Children are also reportedly trafficked from Burundi to Uganda for commercial sexual exploitation and work in agriculture.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment in Burundi is 16 years. 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. Children of less than 16 years may work a maximum of 6 hours per day, must have rest periods of at least 12 hours between work sessions, and, as with all children, are prohibited from working at night. The law allows for medical examinations to determine whether a child's work causes undue physical stress. 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.

The Constitution prohibits slavery in all forms, and the Labor Code 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. Inciting, exploiting, or facilitating the prostitution of persons under 21 years 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. The law does not specifically prohibit trafficking; however, traffickers can be prosecuted under laws against assault, fraud, kidnapping, rape, prostitution, and slavery, and they may face up to 20 years in prison. The Constitution specifically prohibits using children directly in armed conflicts. Nonetheless, by law the minimum age for military recruitment is 16 years, although the Government reports that in practice it does not recruit those under 18 years.

Burundi was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperative 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.

As part of the regional Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, the Government agreed to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders; to rehabilitate and reintegrate trafficking victims; and to assist fellow signatory countries to implement these measures under the Agreement.

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing child labor laws. According to USDOS, enforcement is carried out only in response to the filing of complaints. This practice is due, at least in part, to a lack of labor inspectors. In 2008, there were only 12 labor inspectors, none of whom was specifically assigned to child labor, and no child labor investigations were conducted.

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

In 2008, the Government of Burundi continued to assist former child soldiers and street children. 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; since June 2006, the Government and UNICEF have continued to provide support so these children may receive education and vocational training. The Government has also helped to provide income-generating projects for former child soldiers.

Burundi also worked with international organizations and NGOs to provide training on the enforcement of child labor laws for Ministry of Labor officials. The Government also embarked on a birth registration campaign that is intended to deter the trafficking of children.

The Government of Burundi participated in a 2-year, USD 1.275 million regional project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi, which ended on January 31, 2009. The project was implemented by ILO-IPEC, with funding from the Government of Norway, to prevent the involvement of children in armed conflict and support the rehabilitation of former child soldiers.

Burundi continues to participate in the 2-year, USD 460,000 regional anti-trafficking technical assistance project implemented by UNODC's Regional Office Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking in for Eastern Africa and funded by the Governments Eastern Africa and to harmonize national of Norway and Sweden. The project aims to legislation with the Palermo Protocol. bolster coordination among the 11 EAPCCO countries through the Regional Action

Search Refworld