Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 13:25 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Burundi

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 31 August 2007
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Burundi, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7492653.html [accessed 21 December 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 Labor
Percent of children 5-14 estimated as working in 2000:31.2%718
Minimum age of work:16719
Age to which education is compulsory:12720
Free public education:Yes721*
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2004:80%722
Net primary enrollment rate in 2004:57%723
Percent of children 5-14 attending school in 2000:41.9%724
As of 2003, percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:63%725
Ratified Convention 138:7/19/2000726
Ratified Convention 182:6/11/2002727
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes, associated728
* Must pay for school supplies and related items.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2000, approximately 32.3 percent of boys and 30.1 percent of girls ages 5 to14 were working in Burundi.729 Children in Burundi work in subsistence agriculture, family-based businesses, mining and brick-making industries, and the informal sector.730 In 2004, the Ministry for National Solidarity, Human Rights, and Gender estimated that there were approximately 5,000 street children in Burundi.731 Such children are involved in activities such as portering and hawking goods.732

Until September 2006, when it signed a cease-fire agreement with the government, the rebel group, Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People/National Liberation Front (PALIPEHUTUFNL), continued to recruit children and use them as combatants.733 UNICEF reported that government armed forces did not use children as combatants, but there were reports that the military used children as guides and informers.734 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.735 Since the signing of the ceasefire agreement, there have been conflicting reports regarding whether the PALIPEHUTUFNL's practice of child recruitment has continued.736

Until the September cease-fire agreement, children in Burundi were trafficked for the purposes of child soldiering; the government and a prominent NGO report that such trafficking no longer occurs in the country.737 Children in Burundi may be trafficked within the country and to neighboring countries for forced labor.738

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment in Burundi is 16 years.739 Children 12 to 16 are permitted to engage in light work or apprenticeships that do not jeopardize their health, development, or ability to attend and benefit from school.740 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.741 The law allows for medical examinations to determine if a child's work causes undue physical stress.742 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.743

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.744 Inciting, exploiting, or facilitating the prostitution of persons under 21 is 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.745 The law does not specifically prohibit trafficking; however, traffickers can be prosecuted under laws against assault, fraud, kidnapping, rape, prostitution, and slavery, and can face up to 20 years in prison.746 The minimum age of compulsory recruitment to armed forces is 16.747 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.748

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing child labor laws. According to the U.S. Department of State, it only enforces such laws when complaints are filed because, at least in part, of a lack of labor inspectors.749 The Ministry for National Solidarity, Human Rights, and Gender is responsible for combating trafficking. During 2006, there were arrests of alleged traffickers, but no prosecutions.750

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

During the year, the Government of Burundi and former rebel groups collaborated on a USD 3.5 million project implemented by UNICEF under the World Bank's Multi-Country Demobilization and Reintegration Program to demobilize, reintegrate, and prevent re-recruitment of child soldiers. As of June 2006, when the project closed, more than 3,000 children had been demobilized and provided with services, which included medical and psychosocial services, educational and vocational training opportunities, loans, and other forms of support. Since June, the government and UNICEF have continued to provide support for children receiving education and vocational training.751 The government also 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 targeted a total of 5,264 children for withdrawal and 4,250 children for prevention from involvement with armed groups in seven countries, including Burundi.752 Language on the demobilization of child soldiers was included in the cease-fire agreement signed by the PALIPEHUTU-FNL, and with the support of UNICEF and other partners, the government has provided services to 26 children from the rebel group.753

The government has carried out public awareness campaigns against the use of child soldiers.754 Burundi is also participating in the implementation of a monitoring system on the use of children in armed conflict under UN Security Council Resolution 1612.755

In July 2006, 24 of the 26 governments represented in the ECOWAS and the ECASS participated in a Joint Ministerial Conference on Trafficking in Persons held in Nigeria to develop a common understanding of trafficking in West and Central Africa and to adopt a common set of strategies against trafficking in persons, especially women and children. During the Ministerial Conference, Burundi was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperative Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central Africa and the Joint Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children in the West and Central African Regions.756 As part of the Multilateral Cooperative Agreement, the governments agreed to put into place the child trafficking monitoring system developed by the USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC West and Central Africa LUTRENA trafficking project; ensure that birth certificates and travel identity documents cannot easily be falsified or altered; provide assistance to each other in the investigation, arrest and prosecution of trafficking offenders; protect, rehabilitate, and reintegrate trafficking victims; and improve educational systems, vocational training and apprenticeships.757


718 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank Surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, October 7, 2005.

719 Government of Burundi, Décret loi no. 1/037 du 7 juillet 1993 portant révision du Code du travail, Article 126; available from http://natlex.ilo.org/txt/F93BDI01.htm.

720 U.S. Department of State, "Burundi," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78722.htm.

721 Ibid.

722 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

723 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Net Enrolment Rate. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

724 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank Surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

725 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Survival Rate to Grade 5. Total, accessed December 18, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

726 ILO, Ratifications by Country, accessed June 16, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

727 Ibid.

728 ILO-IPEC, IPEC Action Against Child Labour: Highlights 2006, Geneva, October 2006, 29; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/docstore/ipec/prod/eng/20070228_Implementationreport_en_Web.pdf.

729 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank Surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

730 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Burundi," Section 6d.

731 U.S. Department of State, "Burundi," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004, Washington, DC, February 28, 2005, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41591.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Burundi," Section 5.

732 Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Burundi: Focus on Street Children", IRINnews.org, [online], 2004 [cited February 7, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=41667.

733 UN Secretary-General, Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict in Burundi, October 27, 2006, para 25-28; available from http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N06/582/51/PDF/N0658251.pdf?OpenElement. See also ILOIPEC, 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, "Burundi (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/65988.htm. See also UN Secretary-General, Children and Armed Conflict: Report of the Secretary-General, October 26, 2006, para 18; available from http://www.crin.org/docs/CAC.pdf.

734 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Burundi," Section 1g. See also UN Secretary-General, Report of the Secretary-General, para 21.

735 UN Secretary-General, Report of the Secretary-General, para 20, 22-23. 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.

736 U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, January 30, 2007. See also ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Reintegration of Children Involved in Armed Conflict: An Inter-Regional Programme, technical progress report, Geneva, March 2007, 3.

737 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Burundi," Section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, March 2, 2007.

738 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Burundi." See also ECPAT International CSEC Database, Burundi, accessed October 4, 2006; available from http://www.ecpat.net. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Burundi," Section 5.

739 Décret loi no. 1/037 du 7 juillet 1993 portant révision du Code du travail, Article 126.

740 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/cgilex/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 – 2006: Burundi," Section 6d.

741 ILO Committee of Experts, Individual Direct Request. See also Décret loi no. 1/037 du 7 juillet 1993 portant révision du Code du travail, Articles 119-120.

742 Décret loi no. 1/037 du 7 juillet 1993 portant révision du Code du travail, Article 128.

743 ILO Committee of Experts, Individual Direct Request.

744 Décret loi no. 1/037 du 7 juillet 1993 portant révision du Code du travail, Article 2.

745 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.

746 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Burundi," Section 5.

747 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Burundi," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=761.

748 U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, March 2, 2007.

749 U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, August 18, 2003. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Burundi," Section 6d.

750 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Burundi," Section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, March 2, 2007.

751 World Bank, Burundi, [online] October 2006 [cited October 4, 2006]; available from http://www.mdrp.org/burundi.htm.

752 See ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Reintegration of Children Involved in Armed Conflict: An Inter-Regional Program, project document, Geneva, September 17, 2003.

753 UN Secretary-General, Report of the Secretary-General, 8. 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.

754 U.S. Embassy – Bujumbura, reporting, March 2, 2007.

755 Brenda Kariuki, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Sees Burundi's Progress in Education and Demobilization of Child Soldiers, Bujumbura, February 7, 2006; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/burundi_30956.html.

756 ECOWAS and ECASS, Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central Africa, Abuja, July 7, 2006. See also Catholic Relief Services official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, October 2, 2006.

757 ECOWAS and ECASS, Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons in West and Central Africa. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), technical progress report, Geneva, September 1, 2006. See also Goujon, Emmanuel, "African States Sign up to Fight Human Trafficking," Agence France-Presse, July 7, 2006.

Search Refworld

Countries