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TITLE: BURUNDI HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993 DATE: JANAURY 31, 1994 AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE BURUNDI Ethnic violence between Tutsi (14 percent of the population) and Hutu (85 percent) erupted on October 21, when a coup attempt by elements of the Tutsi-dominated military disrupted the effort, begun by former President Major Pierre Buyoya, to move to an open multiparty political system. In the failed coup attempt, soldiers killed the first democratically elected President, Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu, who had defeated Buyoya in presidential elections on June 1. The assassination of President Ndadaye initiated a vicious cycle of ethnic killings and led to a massive outflow of refugees. At year's end, the number of Burundi refugees (mainly Hutu) outside the country was estimated at nearly 600,000, and the number of displaced within the country was estimated at over 500,000. The refugees faced life-threatening conditions in countries of asylum, notably in Rwanda, where the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported extremely high death rates due to disease and malnutrition. Burundi authorities, religious institutions, and humanitarian assistance organizations agree it is too soon to make credible estimates of the numbers killed during the ethnic violence. Mortality figures will remain uncertain until enough witnesses return to establish the fate of others and until the countryside is sufficiently stabilized to permit investigation of suspected burial sites. Government operations were slowly recovering at year's end. The Prime Minister and most of the ministers had resumed work in their offices, and many made assessment trips and public appearances in the interior. Several ministers, particularly those who had received specific death threats, returned at night to the guarded protection of a secluded hotel. In contrast, at the beginning of the year the outlook for political reform had looked promising. Following adoption of a new Constitution in 1992, President Buyoya took a series of steps to ensure free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections. These measures included developing a new Electoral Code and inviting more than 600 international and domestic election observers, who subsequently certified the validity of the outcomes. In the presidential and legislative campaigns, Buyoya was supported by his party, the former sole ruling party, the National Party for Unity and Progress (UPRONA) and Ndadaye by his party, the Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU), with smaller parties generally allying themselves with UPRONA or FRODEBU based on their ethnic ties. President Ndadaye was sworn into office in an exemplary change of power on July 10; and the National Assembly was sworn in shortly thereafter and held its initial session on July 19. President Ndadaye appointed 9 Tutsis to his 23-member Cabinet. In his 100 days in office, Ndadaye cautiously began discussing reform of the 18,000 member Tutsi-dominated security forces, consisting of the military (army and gendarmerie), the police, and the Surete; to increase Hutu representation in many other institutions, including the judiciary and the civil service; and to encourage the return of thousands of Hutu refugees. A weak coup attempt on July 3, shortly before Ndadaye's inauguration, quickly dissolved after failing to gather support among the military. However, on October 21, soldiers from the Tutsi-dominated military stormed the presidential palace and attempted to seize power. President Ndadaye was taken prisoner and brutally slain. The President and Vice President of the National Assembly, the Minister of Territorial Administration, and the head of the Center for Documentation (Intelligence) were also killed in the coup attempt, along with the wife of the Foreign Minister and a family friend. Some government ministers initially accused the Army Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Jean Bikomagu, of backing the coup attempt, but he denied involvement, as did other senior officers. In an October 31 press conference, the Prime Minister gave Bikomagu a qualified vote of confidence. The U.N. Security Council issued a Presidential statement condemning the coup attempt and the murder of President Ndadaye and other officials and stressed the importance of bringing those responsible to justice. The Government and the military arrested several accused plotters, but others were still at large at year's end. A national commission of inquiry was named but had not yet begun its work. The Government requested the establishment of an international commission of inquiry, a proposal broadly supported by both Hutus and Tutsis. At year's end, relations between the military and the Government remained tenuous. The Government remained cautious toward the military, though dialog was improving slowly. Most units remained in their barracks, but there were still occasional reports of violence by some military elements. Landlocked Burundi is extremely poor and densely populated. Over four-fifths of the working population is engaged in subsistence agriculture, working small privately owned plots. The small monetary economy is based largely on the exports of coffee and tea, with few other cash crops. The October coup attempt and ethnic killing that followed caused massive dislocations which severely disrupted both the monetary and subsistence economies. Despite the progress on political reform made through October, members of both Tutsi and Hutu ethnic groups committed serious human rights abuses during and following the coup attempt. Elements of the Tutsi-dominated military initiated the attempted coup and murdered President Ndadaye and others, unleashing unrestrained ethnic violence. Both Tutsi and Hutu engaged in massive revenge killings of civilians. Rogue elements of the military continued to operate in some parts of the country at year's end. For example, in November civilians, reportedly aided by soldiers, killed the governor of Bubanza. Prior to that, some uncontrolled military elements had engaged in killing in the northern and central provinces of Gitega, Muramvya, Karuzi, Ruyigi, and Kirundo. There were human rights abuses committed prior to the changeover in Government, many relating to the aftermath of the ethnic violence in November 1991. For example, there were vigilante-style killings resulting in the deaths of eight persons in March. The details of interethnic killings remained unclear but reportedly resulted from rivalry between FRODEBU and UPRONA followers in the province of Bubanza during the heated political campaign. Hutu residents took the law into their own hands when local officials refused to pursue suspects who had staged harassment raids on their homes. There were also examples of unfair trials, mainly involving Hutu defendants, stemming from the 1991 violence. Women continued to experience extensive societal and legal discrimination, and, with their children, suffered many of the casualties in the latest violence. RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from: a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing The Governments of President Buyoya and President Ndadaye did not engage in political or other extrajudicial killings. However, the attempted coup against the democratically elected Government and assassination of President Ndadaye triggered interethnic violence and killing on a broad scale throughout the country (see Section 1.g.). By the end of the year, the Government and the military had arrested about nine military enlisted men and officers implicated in the coup plot of October 21. Several others were believed at large in Burundi and abroad. Investigations into the coup attempt by the Government and the military were continuing at year's end. There were early warning signs of extrajudicial killings. For example, in March a political party official reported that, following unexplained nighttime raids on Hutu houses, local Hutu residents in Bubanza province killed two unidentified persons who had allegedly harassed residents. Apparently, the vigilante-style killings took place after a local administrator refused to take the persons into custody, telling the crowd to turn them over to the gendarmes. Subsequently, local Hutu residents killed six additional persons in the southern portion of Bubanza. The reported refusal to act by the local administrator contributed to heated rhetoric by both UPRONA and FRODEBU. The specifics of these allegedly politically motivated killings had not been determined by the time of the October military coup attempt. b. Disappearance There were hundreds of persons reported missing in the violence and dislocations, but the continued instability prevailing at year's end precluded any formal tracing or accounting of the missing or dead. Significant numbers of Hutus disappeared before, during, and after the November 1991 violence. Some may have been (as the Government claimed) among the 40,000 Burundians who fled from the country to Rwanda or Zaire as a result of the violence. There were, however, documented cases in which persons disappeared after having been seen being detained by, or in the custody of, the security forces and in which there was no available record of their detention or release. While the Government had announced that it intended to establish a commission of inquiry to determine the causes of the violence and deaths resulting from the events of November 1991, no commission was formed, and no reports were issued prior to the advent of the Ndadaye administration. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment These practices are expressly forbidden under the 1992 Constitution. During the October violence, civilians of opposing ethnic groups committed the most vicious examples of cruel and inhuman treatment. Both Hutu and Tutsi civilians, armed with pangas, machetes, and spears, customarily hacked victims to death and reportedly tied up and forced some victims to witness the murders of their own spouses and children before killing the bound victims. In some cases, the attackers killed only the men, but severely wounded or dismembered women and children with spears or machetes. Military personnel were seen beating civilians on the street in Bujumbura shortly after the coup attempt. Prison conditions were life threatening and characterized by severe overcrowding and inadequate hygiene, clothing, medical care, food, and water. Four or even five persons were forced to share a poorly ventilated cell 2 meters square. Prisoners had to rely on family members to ensure an adequate diet, and officials acknowledged that digestive illness was a major problem in the prisons. Women were held separately from men. By mid-October, most of those eligible under President Ndadaye's amnesty law had been released. d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile Regular police and gendarmes with arrest authority are permitted to make arrests without a warrant but are legally obligated to submit a written report to a magistrate within 48 hours of the detention. The magistrate can order the suspect released or confirm the charges and continued detention, initially for 15 days and then subsequently for periods of 30 days as necessary to prepare the case for trial. The law allows unlimited pretrial detention. The Surete is obligated to follow the same laws but is known to have detained some persons for a number of months without having their cases certified and forwarded to the Ministry of Justice as required. Daily police operations were severely disrupted during the coup attempt (as were most government operations). In normal circumstances, legal procedures are generally followed in criminal cases, though time limits prescribed by law are often exceeded. Proceedings are constrained by the lack of a well-trained and adequately supported judiciary. At the beginning of the year, the Government arrested between 40 and 60 political activists, principally from the predominately Hutu parties, apparently without ever charging them. Government officials subsequently said the charges ranged from stealing a national flag to being implicated in activities in support of the Hutu-insurgency group PALIPEHUTU (Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People). These arrests were considered by political parties to have been politically motivated actions to impugn the stature and to weaken FRODEBU in the eyes of voters. Political exile is forbidden in the new Constitution, and the Ndadaye Government did not use forced exile as a means of political control. Former President Bagaza and his wife returned to Burundi from exile on July 28 after 6 years in Uganda and Libya. According to Ndadaye administration officials, no negotiations were held or conditions set for Bagaza's return. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial The legal system, like much of the Government administration, was severely disrupted as a result of the coup attempt. When operating normally, it is divided into civil and criminal courts, with the Supreme Court at the apex. Military courts have jurisdiction over crimes committed by members of the military or those involving actions against the military. The new Constitution provides for a High Court to try the President, Prime Minister, or the President of the National Assembly in the event of high-level crime while in office. It also established the Constitutional Court to review all new laws (including decree-laws) and to preside over other constitutional issues. Trials in civilian and military courts are technically public, though the public has traditionally not had regular access to information about cases (including court dates). The law and the Constitution provide for accused persons (whether tried in a civilian or military court) the right to a defense. In practice, only a small percentage of defendants are able to afford legal representation, and consequently most defendants are not represented by counsel. Under the Constitution, the judicial system is independent, but in practice, it is dominated by the Tutsi ethnic group. The President has the authority to appoint judges as well as the power to pardon or reduce sentences. Most Burundians assume the courts still promote the interests of the dominant Tutsi minority. Generally, defendants are Hutu, while the judges and magistrates are, almost without exception Tutsis. Other major shortcomings in the legal system were the frequent lack of defense counsel for the accused; the lack of adequate resources to allow the system to function effectively; the need for better training of judicial and enforcement officials; and the need for revisions in the Legal Code to bring it into conformity with the new Constitution and international standards. For example, confessions made during torture were accepted as evidence in 1992 trials. There were two trials involving 133 Hutus arrested in Ngozi province and accused of crimes in the November 1991 violence. In one of the trials, the Government prosecuted 57 persons; the assigned defense counsel (Tutsi) failed to defend even minimally his Hutu clients, and the court handed down stiff sentences, including 5 life sentences, and 22 sentences of at least 15 years. Upon President Ndadaye's assumption of office, two former ministers and several former government officials from the former Bagaza regime were released from prison provisionally in July. The Government also released in July, on a "temporary" arrangement, former Foreign Minister Cyprien Mbonimpa, who was on trial before the Supreme Court. In July the Government also released and dropped charges in the case of 50 military enlisted soldiers out of the original 150 military enlisted men allegedly implicated in the March 1992 coup attempt. President Ndadaye pledged in his inaugural address to submit draft amnesty legislation, and the National Assembly passed an amnesty law on September 19. The law provided amnesty for all crimes committed before July 1, 1993, with the exception of arson, cannibalism, murder, poisoning, drug trafficking, and group or armed robbery. About 5,000 persons were reportedly affected or obtained release from prison as a result of the amnesty. With the amnesty law, all political detainees and prisoners had been released. f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence The right to privacy is provided for in the Constitution, and the law requiring search warrants was generally respected by the authorities. However, persons suspected of antigovernment activities, which in the past has been broadly interpreted by the Government and the courts, have been subject to surveillance by security forces. g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts Since the assassination of President Ndadaye, there were massive human rights violations by all sides. Elements of the Tutsi-dominated military attempted the coup and killed the President and several other officials. After that, members of both ethnic groups killed, maimed, and burned members of the opposite group. For example, over 25 Tutsi civilians were herded into a gas station in Kabimba and burned alive. In Ruyigi, several Hutu civilians were arrested for violence and then handed over to a Tutsi crowd, which attacked and beat them to death. About 20 other arrestees were shot by the military. In Gitega province, the military reportedly fired on civilians from helicopters. In the ethnic upheaval, attackers burned homes and crops, slaughtered livestock, and vandalized schools, churches, and private homes. Belgian physicians with Doctors Without Borders were among the first in the field, assisting those caught in the waves of violence. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reacted urgently to fly in teams of medical personnel, medical supplies, and relief items. The ICRC surveyed hospitals and clinics in Bujumbura, Kayanza, Ngozi, and Kirundo to assess medical needs and begin organizing field hospital assistance. At the end of the year, Burundi remained a society severely polarized along ethnic lines. Violence and interethnic killing had begun to subside, but sporadic incidents continued and the situation remained unstable. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press The new Constitution provides for free opinion and expression as long as these rights are expressed "in a manner consistent with the public law and order." The current press law, promulgated under the Buyoya government in December 1992, gives the Government wide latitude in restricting all media. Under the Buyoya regime, it was never fully enforced, and papers essentially wrote whatever they wanted, including articles critical of the Government. In late December, the Minister of Communications used the law to suspend an extremist Tutsi newspaper for undermining national unity. Radio and television are government-controlled, and some observers believe that control tightened under the FRODEBU Government. The December 1992 law, designed to correct restrictions in an earlier law deemed unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court, retained restrictions on permissible criticism of government policies, the person of the President, and statements that could be construed as contrary to national unity or injurious to the national economy. The law also provided for government review and possible censorship of all media prior to distribution. In practice, private newspapers published without prior government review, and no cases of seizure were recorded. Newspapers independent of government control demonstrated a willingness to report and comment on issues that the government-controlled press had previously been hesitant to cover. This trend, begun in 1992, continued until October, as did the consequent willingness of the government-controlled Le Renouveau to open its pages to issues previously ignored, in particular political matters. Newspaper readership remained limited, and the majority of the population relied on the government-controlled radio programming in French, Kirundi, and Swahili for information. Reporting in both radio and television reflected government policies, but some air time was reserved for opposition party activities, both prior to and following the elections. Prior to the elections, the Government promised all political parties equal access to the official media and began to produce radio and television debates with participation by representatives of the various political parties. At the same time, journalists and editors for the government-controlled media continued to practice self-censorship. This included canceling programs which the Government found unacceptable and altering texts or footage to correspond to the Government's preferences. Following the June elections, the Minister of Communication fired the Director-General of Radio-Television Nationale du Burundi for failing to adhere sufficiently to the Government's editorial preferences. Many observers felt that the control of the public media became stricter and less tolerant of diversity of opinion following the elections. At the same time, the independent newspapers, of admittedly limited influence, remained outspoken and openly critical of the Government, without interference. Academic freedom has not been tested because the predominantly Tutsi faculty was supportive of the previous government, and the new Government had not been in power long enough for conflict on academic issues to arise. Schools closed at the onset of violence in October and had not reopened by year's end. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association In December 1991, the Government promulgated a decree-law establishing guidelines for granting permits for public meetings or parades. During 1993, the newly formed political parties regularly held well-attended meetings in Bujumbura but reported facing harassment and bureaucratic obstacles when they applied for permits for meetings, particularly in rural areas. c. Freedom of Religion There is no state religion in Burundi. More than 60 percent of the population is Catholic, and the Catholic church plays an important role in the lives of both rural and urban dwellers. A number of Protestant churches have significant followings. Religious organizations are subject to the same rules and restrictions that apply to secular organizations. They must obtain approval from the Government to operate in the country, and a Burundi citizen must be designated as the legal representative of each organization. Prior to 1993, there were continuing incidents of temporary detentions and harassment of Jehovah's Witnesses who refused to comply with local and school officials' demands that they recognize secular authority and participate in state-sanctioned practices, such as singing the national anthem. In 1993 Jehovah's Witnesses reported less harassment than in the past, and, by the end of the year, the group had received government approval as a religious organization. d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation During periods of rumored PALIPEHUTU incursions in the past, the Government closed land and water frontiers; generally the Bujumbura airport remained open in those instances. However, during the first week following the October 21 coup attempt the airport was closed to traffic. Internal movement was obstructed immediately after the coup attempt by the destruction of bridges and trees felled for roadblocks to prevent feared military attacks. By year's end, internal roads had been cleared. Repatriation of Hutu refugees was a major issue in the FRODEBU election campaigns since over 200,000 refugees were estimated to be living in Tanzania, Rwanda and Zaire. Upon the FRODEBU victory, refugees began returning in record numbers, many without waiting to be processed through the repatriation system, most coming with no means of support. The new Government's goal was to repatriate each returnee to his or her original property and provide a 6-month food ration for each, but the Government found itself unprepared for the volume of work and resources the program demanded. The most problematical aspect was land restoration to refugees who had been gone for over 20 years from property that had often changed hands several times in good faith. The Government's refugee commission authorized settlement of cases with no legal references or standards, depending instead on local committees who they said "would know to whom the land belongs." Disputes arose immediately, and local committees were accused of being simply FRODEBU partisans with biased judgments. In late September, the repatriation commission was obliged to table decisions until local committees could be checked and guidelines set for dispute settlements. As a result of the attempted coup d'etat on October 21, nearly 600,000 Burundians, including many recent returnees, fled to Tanzania, Rwanda, and Zaire. At year's end, approximately 170,000 internally displaced persons, mainly Tutsis, were estimated to be sheltered in camps within Burundi. Several hundred thousand more, mostly Hutus, were dispersed, hiding in various locations in the countryside. Prior to the coup attempt, Burundi hosted approximately 300,000 refugees, mostly Rwandans, about 80,000 of whom were assisted by the UNHCR. Many Rwandan refugees from a camp in northern Burundi joined their compatriots in and around Bujumbura to escape recent violence. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government For the first time in Burundi's history, citizens exercised their right to change the national Government by democratic means in free and fair elections in June. Three political parties nominated presidential candidates, and 7 parties ran candidates for the National Assembly. Following a very heated political campaign which brought age-old ethnic biases to the fore between UPRONA and FRODEBU supporters, President Melchior Ndadaye, a former banker, was elected and sworn into office. He promptly announced the appointment of Sylvie Kinigi, a Tutsi woman, as Prime Minister, and a 23-person Cabinet, in which 60 percent of the members were Hutus and 40 percent Tutsis. These members represented FRODEBU, UPRONA (opposition), Peoples' Party, and Assembly of Burundi Peoples' parties, as well as members of the military. The new National Assembly was sworn in shortly thereafter and held its first extraordinary session on July 19. The elected Government remained in office despite the assassination in October of President Ndadaye and the President and Vice President of the National Assembly. The Assembly reconvened and elected a new parliamentary leadership. Most ministers reported regularly to their offices though some still returned for safety to a guarded hotel at night. The Government began replacing missing local administrators and began examining the constitutional options for the installation of an interim President. Women are still poorly represented in the political process and in government, including in the legislature and the judiciary. In addition to Prime Minister Kinigi, the Minister of Social Action, Human Rights, and Protection of Women, is also a woman. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights Under the Buyoya government, the two independent human rights groups (ITEKA and SONERA) faced bureaucratic obstacles, such as inordinate delays by Ministry of Justice officials in responding to requests for information on specific cases or for permission to visit prisons, but they were not actively impeded from carrying out their activities. These activities included investigations and reports on individual human rights cases and civic education programs. The two organizations undertook a joint investigation of the violence of November 1991. The outgoing Buyoya government and the new Ndadaye Government welcomed contact with international human rights organizations. The African American Institute organized an international civilian/military conference in February to discuss a broad range of topics concerning the military's role in democracy. The ICRC continued to visit prisons and hospitals throughout the year and played a major role in assisting the wounded in the violence after Ndadaye's assassination in October. Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status The new Constitution explicitly provides equal status and protection for all citizens, without distinction based on sex, origin, ethnicity, religion, or opinion. In practice, de facto discrimination against women, Hutus, Batwa or Twa (Pygmies) was apparent throughout society and institutions despite government efforts to discourage it. Women Women hold a secondary place in society and face both legal and societal discrimination. For example, the explicitly discriminatory elements of inheritance laws and those relating to obtaining financial credit remained unchanged. Although assured of the same pay as men if they held the same job, women were far less likely than men to hold mid- or high-level positions in either the public or private sectors. President Ndadaye appointed some women to high government positions; he brought two women officer candidates into military cadet ranks. Nevertheless, conditions for women did not undergo appreciable change. In particular, the traditional distinction between male and female roles in Burundi remained institutionalized in rural areas, where women are responsible for hard labor in most food-crop production. In rural areas, females also had little opportunity for education. Overall, females get only one-third of the schooling of males. Violence against women occurs, including wife beating and rape, but there is no documentation of its extent. Police do not normally intervene in domestic disputes, and the press does not cover incidents of violence against women, including rape. There were no known court cases dealing with abuse of women. Children The Government has not expressed a particular commitment to children's human rights as distinct from those of all other citizens. During the October violence, children were victims of the violence along with adults of both ethnic groups. At year's end, the number of orphans created by the violence had not been determined, and the Government had not yet formulated a response to this problem. Indigenous People The indigenous Twa (Pygmy) minority, which comprises perhaps 1 percent of the population, remained almost completely marginalized, economically, socially, and politically. While the former Buyoya government stated its commitment to serve all Burundians, most Twa continued to live in isolation, without attending school or having access to government services, including health care. There were no known efforts by the former Government or other political parties to discriminate against Twa in the elections. National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities Burundi's fundamental problem is the ethnic conflict between majority Hutus, who gained political power only with the election of Ndadaye in June, and minority Tutsis, who have historically held power and still control the military and dominate educated society. In practice, de facto ethnic discrimination against Hutus--85 percent of the population--colors every facet of society and institutions, including the military and the judicial establishment, despite constitutional provisions and some policies introduced under the Buyoya military administration to attract Hutus into the professions. These late efforts had not had a significant impact, but Hutus, under Buyoya, had made inroads into the civil service, and by 1993 the number of Hutus exceeded the number of Tutsis entering secondary school. The Ndadaye administration upon assuming office began a more concerted effort to put its FRODEBU faithful into the government bureaucracy. Those policy changes led quickly to increased tensions between long-term Tutsi professionals (civilian and military) and the new FRODEBU Government. People with Disabilities Burundi's rudimentary economy effectively excludes the physically disabled from many types of employment. Some sheltered craft workshops exist in Bujumbura but the most frequent occupation for the physically disabled is street and market vending or begging. The Government has not enacted legislation or otherwise mandated provision of accessibilty for the disabled. Section 6 Worker Rights a. The Right of Association The Government promulgated a revision of the Labor Code in July. Both the Constitution and the revised Labor Code protect the rights of workers to form unions. However, only about 15,000 workers in the wage economy (about 20 percent) participate in the new system of voluntary checkoffs put into place to help finance union activities. Most workers are from the ranks of urban civil servants. The military, the gendarmerie, and certain expatriates working in the public sector are prohibited from forming or joining unions. The national umbrella trade union organization, the Organization of Free Unions of Burundi (CSB), is financially dependent on this same system of voluntary checkoffs. CSB represented labor in drafting negotiations for the new Labor Code revisions and has also participated in specific collective bargaining negotiations in cooperation with individual labor unions. The CSB includes all labor unions except the teachers union and is the only existing labor federation. The Labor Code permits the formation of additional unions or union confederations outside the CSB. The Labor Code also provides workers the right to strike. The revised Labor Code affirms, but does not greatly alter, the right of workers to form unions and to strike. Restrictions on the right to strike and lockout are: 1) the action must be taken only after exhausting all other peaceful means of resolution, 2) negotiations must continue during the action, mediated by a mutually agreeable party or by the Government, and 3) 6 days' notice must be given. Retribution against workers participating in a legal strike is prohibited. One strike occurred in the first half of October at the National Data Processing Center, where workers who chose to leave the organization upon privatization did not receive the required indemnity payment. At year's end, the strike was still in effect, and negotiations still in progress. CSB maintains international affiliations with the Organization of Central African Workers, the Organization of African (Labor) Unions, the International Confederation of Trade Unions, and the World Confederation of Labor. CSB has also sponsored seminars and training programs with the African-American Labor Center. b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively The 1993 Labor Code revision recognizes the right to collective bargaining which had formerly been acknowledged only by ordinance. Since most workers are civil servants, government entities are involved in almost every phase of labor negotiations. Public sector wages are set in fixed scales in individual work contracts and are not affected by collective bargaining. In the private sector, wage scales also exist but individual contract negotiation is possible. In principle, private sector wage scales can also be influenced by collective bargaining, though this is infrequent. The Labor Code also gives the Labor Court jurisdiction over all labor dispute cases, including those involving public employees. Labor negotiations are still conducted largely between unions and employers under the supervision of the tripartite National Labor Council, the Government's highest consultative authority on labor issues. The Council represents government, labor, and management and is presided over and regulated by the Minister of Labor. The 1993 Labor Code revision prohibits employers from firing or otherwise discriminating against a worker because of union affiliation or activity. A three-step process was available to resolve complaints regarding labor practices or policies toward a union or union member: Direct employer-employee negotiations under the auspices of the CSB; an administrative hearing before a government labor inspector; and a legal proceeding before the Labor Court. There are no export processing zones, though a decree-law making the entire nation a free zone for many nontraditional, export-oriented activities was promulgated on August 31, l992. The decree-law requires, inter alia, that wages meet the minimum interprofessional standards fixed by law but allows employers more latitude in negotiations with employees. The law also makes it easier for qualifying enterprises to hire foreign workers. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor Forced and compulsory labor are prohibited by law and not practiced. The Committee of Experts of the International Labor Organization (ILO) noted the repeal of some decrees and orders which were inconsistent with the commitment to abolish forced labor but reiterated its concern about other decrees or orders requiring obligatory community development and not excluding political prisoners from prison labor. d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children The current Labor Code states that children under the age of 16 are not allowed to be employed by "an enterprise," even as apprentices, though it also states that they may undertake occasional work which does not damage their health or schooling. Young children are, in fact, often seen doing heavy manual labor, including transporting bricks on their heads, in rural areas in daytime during the school year. Children are legally forbidden from working at night, though many did so in the informal sector. As a practical matter, children are obligated by custom and economic necessity to help support their family by participating in activities related to subsistence agriculture in family-based enterprises and the informal sector. e. Acceptable Conditions of Work The nationally established formal minimum wage for unskilled workers is $0.54 (140 Burundi francs) per day in Bujumbura and Gitega and $0.34 (88 Burundi francs) in the rest of the country, with a graduated scale for increased skill levels. This amount does not meet the daily needs for a family. Employees working under contract, particularly in urban areas, generally earn significantly more than the minimum wage. All employees in the public sector work under contract, while the CSB estimates that 70 percent of employees working in the formal private sector are covered by a contract. The Labor Code revision calls for maternity and health costs to be taken over by social security, once it is established, rather than to be borne by employees. Most families live outside urban areas and are involved in subsistence agricultural production which allows them to supplement their income with homegrown foodstuffs. Many urban households rely on more than one wage earner or supplement earnings by participation in petty commerce. The Labor Code imposes a maximum 8-hour workday and 45-hour workweek except in cases when workers are involved in activities related to national security. Supplements must be paid for overtime in any case. The Labor Code establishes health and safety standards requiring an employer to provide a safe workplace and assigns enforcement responsibility to the Ministry of Labor. However, enforcement suffers from a shortage of staff and resources. Health and safety articles in the Labor Code do not directly address the workers' right to remove themselves from a dangerous work situation. (###)
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