Last Updated: Thursday, 19 April 2018, 12:43 GMT

2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Burundi

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 June 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Burundi, 19 June 2012, available at: [accessed 20 April 2018]
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 Watch List)

Burundi is a source country for children and possibly women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Children and young adults are coerced into forced labor on plantations or small farms in southern Burundi, small-scale menial labor in gold mines in Cibitoke, labor intensive tasks such as fetching river stones for construction in Bujumbura, or informal commerce in the streets of larger cities. Some traffickers are the victims' family members, neighbors, or friends who, under the pretext of assisting with education or employment opportunities, obtain them for forced labor. Some families are complicit in the exploitation of children and adults with disabilities, accepting payment from traffickers who run forced street begging operations. Young women offer vulnerable girls room and board within their homes, eventually pushing some of them into prostitution to pay for living expenses; these brothels are located in poorer areas of Bujumbura, as well as along the lake and trucking routes. Extended family members sometimes also financially profit from the prostitution of young relatives residing with them. Male tourists from the Middle East, particularly Lebanon, exploit Burundian girls in prostitution, mainly in newly constructed high-end neighborhoods. Business people recruit Burundian girls for prostitution in Bujumbura, as well as in Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda, and recruit boys and girls for various types of forced labor in southern Burundi and Tanzania. During the reporting period, Burundian girls were fraudulently recruited for prostitution in Oman; the offenders originally promised the intended victims transport to the Democratic Republic of the Congo for religious purposes.

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. During the reporting period, the government demonstrated a renewed interest in combating trafficking in persons, as shown through its ratification of the 2000 UN TIP Protocol. The Commander of the Children and Ethics Brigade, the Burundian government's leading anti-trafficking agency, continued her nationwide awareness-raising campaign for a third year. Despite these efforts, the government did not demonstrate evidence of overall increasing efforts to address human trafficking compared to the previous year, particularly in regard to prosecution of trafficking offenses and protection of victims; therefore, Burundi is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a second consecutive year. While the government arrested four suspected traffickers and began prosecuting two of them, it failed to convict a trafficking offender during the reporting period. The Ministries of Health and Solidarity provided ad hoc support to victims through the provision of medical care vouchers and limited funding to service providers, though most victim assistance continued to be provided by NGOs without government support. The government could greatly enhance the coordination of its anti-trafficking efforts through the designation of a lead ministry or the formation of an inter-ministerial body.

Recommendations for Burundi: Finalize and enact draft anti-trafficking legislation; enforce the trafficking provisions in the 2009 Criminal Code amendments through increased prosecution of trafficking offenses and conviction and punishment of trafficking offenders; ensure all units of the police, as well as prosecutors, judges, and border guards receive anti-trafficking training to include how to refer cases for investigation; establish standardized policies and procedures for government officials to identify and interview proactively potential trafficking victims and transfer them to the care, when appropriate, of local organizations; continue the anti-trafficking public awareness campaign currently underway by the police; establish mechanisms for increasing protective services to victims, possibly through partnerships with NGOs or international organizations; and establish broad-based institutional capacity to combat trafficking by forming an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate and guide government efforts.


The Government of Burundi maintained its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Articles 242 and 243 of Burundi's Criminal Code prohibit human trafficking and smuggling and prescribe sentences of five to 20 years' imprisonment; the code does not, however, provide a definition of human trafficking, potentially impeding investigators' or prosecutors' ability to identify and prosecute trafficking offenses. Sex trafficking offenses can also be addressed using penal code articles on brothel-keeping and pimping, which prescribe penalties of one to five years' imprisonment, and child prostitution, with prescribed penalties of five to 10 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. Forced labor is prohibited by Article 2 of the Labor Law, though the Criminal Code prescribes no explicit penalties for a violation; officials cite this as a weakness in combating trafficking crimes, especially in addressing forced child labor. The government made no efforts to complete its draft comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation intended to rectify this and other gaps in existing laws.

In 2011, the government did not collect aggregate data on its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The Children and Ethics Brigade, under the Burundian National Police, was the sole government entity that made specific anti-trafficking efforts during the year. Police arrested four suspected trafficking offenders; two remain in prison pending the government's appeal of the dismissal of their case and two remain in pre-trial detention. The overall number of investigations and prosecutions remain inadequate. In late 2011, police in Makamba province, near the Tanzanian border, arrested one Omani and one Rwandan for alleged sex trafficking of three Burundian girls; when police arrested the suspects, four other girls had already been sent to Oman authorities have not yet attempted to recover them. The two offenders were charged with conspiring to engage in trafficking, but the charges were dismissed after the victims refused to testify; the offenders remain in prison while a prosecutor appeals the decision. In 2011, Kenyan Interpol repatriated 60 Burundian children and women who were en route to Australia, though they had been promised jobs in Kenya; Burundian authorities charged one suspected trafficker who remains in pre-trial detention. Although the government continued to focus law enforcement efforts on transnational trafficking cases, police in Buganda arrested a suspected trafficker for transporting 11 children, one only six years old, from Karuzi province to Cibitoke province for domestic servitude in December 2011; the suspect remains in pre-trail detention. During raids on hotels functioning as brothels in 2010, police discovered government officials soliciting people in prostitution, including children; however, two years later, the government has yet to prosecute or convict any officials for their complicity in trafficking. The government provided no anti-trafficking training to law enforcement officials in 2011.


The government made minimal efforts to protect victims during the reporting period. It lacks the financial, human, and institutional resources to assist victims directly or provide adequate support to the organizations that provide such support. Although the government reported its identification and referral to services of trafficking victims during the year, it did not quantify or provide information on these cases; NGOs reported their organizations' identification of 99 victims, at least one of whom was identified and referred by a police officer. The care centers in Burundi are operated by NGOs, religious organizations, and women's or children's associations, largely funded by UN agencies; none are specifically focused on providing assistance to trafficking victims. The Ministry of National Solidarity provided funding to some local NGOs to assist victims of gender-based violence and trafficking, while the Ministry of Health provided vouchers for hospital care to an unspecified number of trafficking victims. The government operated two centers in Kigobe and Buyenzi Communes to assist street children, including an unknown number of victims of forced child labor. Police provided limited shelter and food assistance to child victims in temporary custody, kept in a holding area separate from adult detainees, while authorities attempted to locate their families. In some instances, the police provided counseling to children in prostitution and mediated between these victims and their parents. The Ministry of National Solidarity's Department of Childhood provided small grants to victims of child labor, who may have included trafficking victims. The government completed family tracing and paid for the return transport of 11 child trafficking victims during the year. In 2011, the Minister of National Solidarity established the Department for the Protection of Children, intended to protect vulnerable children, including child trafficking victims. Additionally, in December 2011, the Senate passed a resolution to increase resources to combat trafficking; however, additional funding has not yet been disbursed.

The government has not yet developed a system to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations or to refer victims to service-providing organizations. Without standardized procedures for identifying trafficking victims, some may have been penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked; the brigade did not attempt to identify trafficking victims among women in prostitution who were arrested, jailed, or fined. The government did not encourage victims to assist in the investigation or prosecution of trafficking cases. Burundian law does not provide foreign trafficking victims with legal alternatives to their removal to a country where they may face hardship or retribution.


The government maintained its efforts to prevent trafficking during the year, though it remained without a ministry or national committee to coordinate and lead its anti-trafficking efforts. In 2011, the Children and Ethics Brigade continued its national awareness-raising campaign throughout the country to sensitize officials and local populations about the dangers of human trafficking, encouraging citizens to report trafficking cases to local authorities. The Office of the Second Vice President assumed a leadership role on anti-trafficking efforts in 2011, as it began drafting a national plan of action, which was not finalized during the reporting period. Coordination across government ministries to combat trafficking is poor and many relevant agencies and police units are unaware of the problem, which severely hindered progress. With donor funding, an NGO formed a Joint Task Force on human trafficking, including representation from the National Police and the Ministries of Justice and National Solidarity; the Task Force meets every three months to share information. Various ministries provided representatives to the Municipal Council for Youth and Children's committee on the needs of vulnerable children, including street children and orphans, registering them in order to target government assistance. In 2011, the Ministry of Labor's 15 inspectors conducted no child labor inspections. Police continued the investigation of incidents of child sex tourism and deported suspected offenders, including two Lebanese nationals in late 2011. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period. The government did not provide its troops with anti-trafficking training prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions, though foreign donors provided such training to Burundian peacekeeping troops. In March 2012, the National Assembly unanimously agreed to ratify the 2000 UN TIP Protocol, which the President signed in April 2012.

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