Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Burundi
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||4 June 2008|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Burundi, 4 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/484f9a082a.html [accessed 20 August 2014]|
BURUNDI (Tier 2 Watch List)
Burundi is a source country for children trafficked for the purposes of child soldiering, domestic servitude, and commercial sexual exploitation. The rebel faction PALIPEHUTU-FNL (Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People-National Liberation Force – also known as the FNL) remains the only armed group not to have signed a peace agreement with the government, and continues to unlawfully recruit and use children as fighters, manual laborers, and logistical support. A small number of Burundian children may be trafficked internally for domestic servitude or commercial sexual exploitation, although there is little evidence of organized child prostitution. In early 2008, Burundian children were allegedly trafficked to Uganda via Rwanda for agricultural labor and commercial sexual exploitation.
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. Nevertheless, Burundi is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year for its failure to provide sufficient evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking in persons over the last year. While the arrest of suspected FNL recruiting agents and the government's rejection of a request to export Burundian workers to the Middle East are notable, its inability to provide adequate protective services to children accused of association with armed groups and to conduct anti-trafficking law enforcement activities continue to be causes for concern.
Recommendations for Burundi: Ensure all former child combatants detained in demobilization camps and prisons are provided with appropriate protective services; pass and implement anti-trafficking provisions contained in the draft criminal code amendment; and investigate the nature of child commercial sexual exploitation and any possible domestic servitude within the country; and take steps to remove affected children from these situations.
The government's anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts were limited during the reporting period. Burundi's laws do not prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons, though Article 241 of the Burundi Constitution prohibits all forms of slavery and its criminal code outlaws forced labor and kidnapping. Sex trafficking crimes can also be punished using statutes on brothel-keeping and pimping. Nevertheless, there were no investigations, prosecutions, or convictions under these statutes during the reporting period. In 2007, an amendment to Burundi's Criminal Code, drafted in a joint effort between the Ministry of Justice and members of civil society, was debated by Parliament and prepared for a vote. Among other provisions, the amendment prohibits defined acts of forced prostitution, sexual slavery, and human trafficking, and delineates the methods of prosecution and punishment for such crimes. However, a mid-2007 legislative impasse delayed passage of most bills, including the criminal code amendments, and a number of other bills addressing the protection of children. In June 2007, two alleged FNL recruiting agents were arrested by Internal Security Police officers in Butezi commune and detained in Butezi prison before being transferred to the judicial police prison in Ruyigi; they were subsequently released for lack of evidence.
The government provided minimal assistance to trafficking victims in 2007. Potential child trafficking victims, who were suspected of association with an armed group, remained in demobilization camps and prisons, where protective services were lacking. Following months with no communication between the Government of Burundi and the FNL, peace negotiations were scheduled to resume in April 2008. According to the cease-fire accords, in the absence of a peace agreement, children remaining with the FNL cannot be formally recognized by the government, demobilized, or provided the benefits package afforded to the country's other former child soldiers. Moreover, efforts to demobilize additional children from within the FNL's forces cannot progress as rebel leaders refuse to claim suspected child soldiers as members of their units. Until completion of the negotiations, the government's Randa and Buramata demobilization camps in Bubanza Province continue to house FNL members who wish to be demobilized, including former child soldiers. In December 2007, UNICEF verified that over 200 of those detained in these facilities are children who are not separated from adult combatants, placed in school, or provided with constructive activities.
During the reporting period, the government's Demobilization Department provided a limited amount of medical assistance and counseling to former child soldiers suffering from physical and psychological trauma, including victims of trafficking. It also made available facilities and other logistical support to an international NGO that provided vocational training, conflict resolution counseling, and income-generating projects to 538 demobilized child soldiers to assist with their reintegration into civilian life. The government did not, however, provide protective services to any other categories of trafficking victims during the reporting period, nor did it show evidence of implementing procedures to identify victims of trafficking or referring them to organizations that provide protective services. However, the Burundian Embassy in Kampala began an investigation of the recent trafficking of a small number of Burundian children to Uganda and provided these children with medical care. The government did not encourage victims to participate in investigations or prosecutions of trafficking offenders, nor did it ensure that victims were not inappropriately incarcerated or otherwise penalized solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.
The government's efforts to prevent trafficking improved slightly during the year, but remained nascent. In December 2007, the Ministry of National Solidarity and Human Rights enacted and the President endorsed a decree that excludes from customs duties all goods imported by private and local associations involved in the fight against human trafficking, as well as other human rights issues. In April 2007, the Ministry of Labor met with an official Lebanese delegation that sought to recruit Burundian women for the Lebanese labor market, but ultimately denied the Lebanese government's request for fear that the proposal would facilitate trafficking or other forms of labor exploitation. Although government officials and Burundian security forces, including the Brigade for the Protection of Women and Children, are aware of a few centers for prostitution in the vicinity of Bujumbura, a survey into the conditions of females and children in prostitution has not taken place. In 2007, the government organized meetings and seminars with NGOs addressing the issue of trafficking within Burundi's borders. The government did not undertake efforts to reduce demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period. In December 2007 and January 2008, Burundi deployed its first battalion of peacekeepers to the African Union's Mission to Somalia. The pre-deployment training of the peacekeepers, provided by two foreign governments, included a curriculum that created awareness and discouraged acts of trafficking and sexual exploitation. Burundi has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.