U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Burundi

Burundi (Tier 2)

Burundi is a source and destination country for trafficking in persons, primarily children conscripted to serve as porters, cooks, and some as combatants in both government and rebel forces, many of whom were forcibly recruited. Other children join the military using false documents, and many orphans and children separated from their parents work as porters and cooks at government military camps. Rebel forces also reportedly recruit among growing numbers of street children and orphans, among Burundian refugees in camps in Tanzania, and from other neighboring countries.

The Government of Burundi does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons; however, it is making significant efforts to do so despite severe resource constraints. The government, inaugurated in early May 2003, needs to continue its efforts to demobilize and assist child soldiers, take action against those using them, and provide protection for demobilized child soldiers.


Government policy prohibits child combatants, but many suspected children join the military with false documents. Beginning in May 2002, the Ministry of Defense began investigating the extent of the child soldier problem, holding discussions at three army camps and among senior officers, and began a series of awareness raising seminars for senior officers in June and November 2002. In August 2002, the government conducted a survey of families to determine how many children had left to join the government or rebel forces. The Army then conducted a census of minors in the military in October 2002. As a result, the Army Chief of Staff ordered that commanders cease the use of children as combatants in January 2003. The government is working with an international organization to demobilize child soldiers and participating in another international program to prevent children, particularly street children, from becoming involved in armed conflict. The government facilitated the travel of former child soldiers to the Department of Labor conference on child soldiers.


Although there is no specific anti-trafficking law, forcing others into prostitution is prohibited. Bonded labor is also prohibited. The Ministry of Defense prepared a package of laws, including a new minimum age requirement for recruitment, and the government is reviewing laws to strengthen punishments for sexual exploitation of children. The new Council of Ministers is considering these reforms over the next three months. The government broke up a prostitution ring in which four persons were imprisoned.


The government established a body to demobilize and reintegrate child soldiers that includes the military, government, and non-governmental and international organizations. The government, in partnership with an international organization, is reuniting children with parents and providing alternative education. The government is releasing child soldiers who have been detained or imprisoned.


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