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TITLE: BURUNDI HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE: FEBRUARY 1995








                            BURUNDI


Burundi's first democratically elected Government retained 
power following an October 1993 coup attempt and the 
assassination of President Melchior Ndadaye, an ethnic Hutu.  
Effective authority was limited, however, since government 
confidence in the loyalty of the armed forces remained tenuous 
and officials hesitated to resume full duties, fearing for 
their personal safety, thus leaving their ministries to 
management by incumbent civil servants of the opposition 
parties.  Several ministers received anonymous death threats.

The assassinations of President Ndadaye, the President and Vice 
President of the National Assembly, and of other officials 
exhausted constitutional provisions for Presidential 
succession.  In January a coalition consisting of the majority 
(predominantly Hutu) FRODEBU Party, the elected opposition 
(predominantly Tutsi) UPRONA Party, smaller political parties, 
religious, business, labor, human rights, and other civic 
leaders negotiated an agreement which installed majority party 
leader Cyprien Ntaryamira as President.  The coalition's 
selection of Ntaryamira involved the grant of a number of 
power-sharing concessions to the opposition parties.  The 
National Assembly passed a constitutional amendment allowing 
the Assembly to fill the presidential vacancy.

On April 6, President Ntaryamira and Rwandan President Juvenal 
Habyarimana were killed in a suspicious crash of Habyarimana's 
airplane, which remains under investigation.  Renewed 
presidential succession negotiations eventually concluded in 
October with the installation of Acting President Sylvestre 
Ntibantunganya to serve out the remainder of the presidential 
term running to 1998.  These negotiations required further 
power-sharing concessions to the political opposition.

Security forces consist of the army and gendarmerie under the 
Ministry of Defense, the judicial police under the Ministry of 
Justice, and the public security and documentation police 
forces under the Ministry of Interior.  The high command of the 
Tutsi-dominated military professed loyalty to the elected 
Government and neutrality in political negotiations.  However, 
in Bujumbura, it was not until August that the military acted 
quickly and professionally to end civil disturbances involving 
citizens of their own ethnicity.  On several other occasions, 
military forces used excessive violence in government-
sanctioned operations to disarm civilians, fired on unarmed 
civilians, including women and children, and engaged in burning 
abuses were isolated, uncondoned breaches of discipline and and 
looting of homes.  Military authorities insisted these were 
corrected internally.  Neither the armed forces nor the 
Government provided a public accounting of measures taken to 
punish those responsible for these excesses.  However, at 
year's end, according to military sources, 100 military 
personnel were in prison facing general court martial for 
excesses against civilians, looting, involvement in the 1993 
coup attempt, or other acts of indiscipline.

Burundi is extremely poor and densely populated, with over 
four-fifths of the population engaged in subsistence 
agriculture.  The small monetary economy is based largely on 
the export of coffee and tea.  The severe disruptions and 
dislocations stemming from the October 1993 coup attempt 
increased the economic misery, as large numbers of internally 
displaced families were unable to produce their own food crops 
and had to depend largely on international humanitarian 
assistance.  The Government made little progress in its efforts 
to privatize parastatal enterprises.

The Burundi security forces and armed civilian groups committed 
serious human rights abuses, which the Government was largely 
unable to prevent.  Perpetrators generally went unpunished.  
The most serious abuses involved actions by the armed forces, 
carried out in a climate of ethnic conflict.  Serious incidents 
of ethnically motivated killing and destruction occurred in the 
Bujumbura region, where armed troops brutally killed armed and 
unarmed ethnic rivals, including women and the elderly.  Both 
Hutu and Tutsi civilians in paramilitary, displaced, or 
vigilante youth groups also committed extrajudicial killings.  
The authorities made little or no progress in the 
investigations of extrajudicial killings and have neither tried 
nor punished any of the perpetrators.

Government efforts to restore security were inadequate and 
mistrusted by Tutsis, particularly those gathered in displaced 
persons camps.  Hutus often justifiably perceived the military 
to be the principal threat to their security, rather than its 
guarantor.

Members of the armed forces and vigilante groups committed 
serious human rights violations with impunity.  The lack of 
accountability for those responsible for the coup attempt, 
assassinations, and ethnic violence was universally recognized 
as a primary cause of public insecurity.  The dysfunctional 
justice system could not satisfactorily address this problem 
due to its own inefficiency, administrative disruption, and 
public perception of its partiality.  Legal and societal 
discrimination against women continues to be a serious problem.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

In addition to extrajudicial killings by the armed forces, 
armed groups perpetrated unlawful, politically and ethnically 
motivated killings of that group's ethnic counterpart or 
political opponent.  The armed forces frequently committed 
abuses in government-approved operations to disarm civilians.

On March 1 soldiers attacked and killed 25 civilians, including 
women and the elderly, in the Kanyosha quarter south of the 
capital, according to resident witnesses who fled the attack.  
Soldiers also brutally killed 13 people taken into custody 
after they responded to military appeals for noncombatants to 
depart Kamenge.  Their bodies were discovered discarded on the 
outskirts of Bujumbura, bearing bayonet wounds.  Some had 
crushed skulls.

On May 9 troops in pursuit of armed civilians killed 52 unarmed 
civilian residents in the nearby Gashorora region of rural 
Bujumbura province.  Military authorities said they did not 
condone these abuses and therefore punished the perpetrators, 
but specific information about those arrested was not 
available.  At the end of the year, no trials had begun.

In July, military forces removed approximately 30 male refugees 
from a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) transit 
point in Kabarore, Ngozi province, without prior notification 
to UNHCR.  The group never returned and a mass grave for a 
similar number of persons was found across the provincial 
border.

Also in July, men in military uniforms gathered approximately 
45 refugees, mostly women and children, into a deserted church 
in Cendajeru, Ngozi, threw a grenade into the church and fired 
on those who survived the blast.  The identity of the attackers 
is not known.  These incidents received considerable 
international media attention.

Hutu and Tutsi paramilitary and vigilante youth groups, in 
territorial conflict, stoned, beat, and stabbed to death 
members of the opposing ethnic group in Bujumbura.  Gangs also 
waylaid buses, removing and killing passengers of opposite 
ethnicity.  Buses later restricted their routes to communities 
of the driver's ethnicity.  This reduced, but did not entirely 
eliminate, the attacks.  In March a group of armed civilians in 
Kamenge abducted and killed an army officer.  During August 7 
and 8, an extremist Tutsi political leader incited Tutsi youth 
to create civil violence which included the murder of 11 
people.  Authorities failed to identify and prosecute the 
perpetrators.

In June, according to UNHCR reports, civilians--with some 
degree of complicity by unidentified military forces--separated 
about 100 Rwandan Hutu refugees from their families near Kiri, 
in Kirundo province, removed them to another location, and 
killed them.  Local military authorities obstructed 
investigation of a mass grave of approximately 100 bodies which 
was subsequently discovered near the site of the killings.  One 
civilian was arrested; his case is currently under 
investigation.  Three other suspects fled to Rwanda before 
being arrested.

In two incidents during August and September, assailants threw 
grenades into the Bujumbura central market, killing and 
injuring several people.  Police made arrests in both incidents 
but later released the suspects due to a lack of witnesses who 
were willing to testify.  It was not clear whether the attacks 
were politically, personally, or criminally motivated.  
Increasingly in Bujumbura, all three elements, in varying 
degrees, motivated individual incidents of violence.

In August gunmen attacked the Catholic Bishop of Muyinga at the 
altar while celebrating mass.  When members of the congregation 
and clergy fled the church to the market, attackers armed with 
machetes killed 123; the Bishop escaped.  One soldier was 
arrested and his case remains under investigation.

A Hutu National Assembly member was shot in Bujumbura.  Both 
Hutus and Tutsis have been accused of his murder, although an 
investigation in progress at the end of the year has yielded no 
suspects.  Eight communal administrators, most of whom were 
Hutus, were killed in 1994.  All eight murders were presumed to 
be politically motivated and investigations were pending.  
Police have made arrests in some but not all of these cases.  
Hutu governors in Bubanza and Kirundo were killed in political 
or ethnic attacks.  Police killed one attacker in Kirundo.  No 
arrest has been made in the Bubanza investigation.  
Investigations are also pending in the politically or 
ethnically motivated cases of an expatriate UNHCR field officer 
killed in an apparent attack on another Hutu communal 
administrator, attacks on a Hutu (wounded) and a Tutsi 
(unharmed) National Assembly member, and attacks on two more 
governors and several communal administrators, some of whom 
were wounded but who survived their attacks.

     b.  Disappearance

During separate incidents in August and September, six Tutsis, 
on legitimate business in the Kamenge quarter, disappeared and 
are presumed dead.  Government investigations failed to 
identify the perpetrators of the violence since most witnesses 
either sympathize with the abductors or fear reprisals.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution prohibits these abuses but they occur in 
practice.  Perpetrators of ethnic violence severely wounded 
women and children, using spears and machetes.  Allegations of 
torture in prison made in May and June by international human 
rights organizations on behalf of several individuals charged 
with participation in ethnic violence were not substantiated.  
These charges were not made by the prisoners, some of whom did, 
however, report brutal mistreatment by civilian arresting 
forces before reaching the prison.  While the Government claims 
that it does not condone such treatment, the authorities made 
no serious effort to address the problem.

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 among the prisoners.  Women were held separately from 
men.  At least one prison death occurred, due to poor health 
conditions.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Presiding magistrates are authorized to issue arrest warrants.  
Regular police and gendarmes can make arrests without a warrant 
but must 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 continue detention, 
initially for 15 days, then subsequently for periods of 30 days 
as necessary to prepare the case for trial.  The law allows 
unlimited pretrial detention; 6 to 12 months is a typical 
period, although less complex cases are dispatched more 
quickly.  The police are obligated to follow the same laws but 
have detained people for many months without having their cases 
certified and forwarded to the Ministry of Justice as 
required.  Bail is permitted in some cases.  Incommunicado 
detention reportedly exists, although the law prohibits it.

Authorities generally followed legal procedures in criminal 
cases, although they often exceeded the time limits prescribed 
by law.  The lack of a well-trained and adequately supported 
judiciary constrains expeditious proceedings.  The disruption 
of the political process and the general level of insecurity 
within the country have severely impeded the judicial process, 
delaying a majority of criminal trials.

A National Inquiry Commission with arrest authority was 
established to investigate responsibility for the October 1993 
coup attempt and subsequent violence.  In May it began to make 
arrests.  At year's end, the Ministry of Justice reported over 
800 persons (including military personnel) were in custody for 
crimes related to the coup attempt and assassinations or the 
ensuing violence and reprisals.  (Military authorities confirm 
14 military personnel in prison facing court martial charges 
related to the coup attempt.)  Those arrested could not be 
tried and remain in custody since a fully empowered President, 
authorized to panel a criminal grand jury, was not installed 
until October and had not yet addressed judicial questions at 
year's end.  Police hold all detainees on criminal charges, 
though several arrested in connection with ethnic violence 
claimed they were being held for their political convictions 
rather than involvement in violent acts.  Pretrial detainees 
constitute about 75 percent of the prison population of 
approximately 3,500 inmates.

The Constitution prohibits political exile and the Government 
did not use forced exile as a means of political control.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judicial system was severely disrupted as a result of the 
October 1993 coup attempt and the repeated presidential 
succession negotiations throughout 1994.  When operating 
normally, the judicial system 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 Constitution provides for a High Court to try the 
President, Prime Minister, or the President of the National 
Assembly, and a Constitutional Court to review all new laws 
(including decree-laws) and constitutional issues.

Citizens do not have regular access to civilian and military 
court proceedings, although trials are ostensibly public.  
Although defendants have a right to counsel and to defend 
themselves, few have legal representation in practice.

The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, but in 
practice, it is dominated by the Tutsi ethnic group.  The 
President's authority to appoint judges and to pardon or reduce 
sentences was limited by constitutional amendment in September 
during presidential succession negotiations.  Most Burundians 
assume the courts still promote the interests of the dominant 
Tutsi minority.

Besides the frequent lack of counsel for the accused, other 
major shortcomings in the legal system include:  the lack of 
adequate resources, trained personnel, and an outmoded Legal 
Code.  Legal Code revisions begun in 1993 continued at a slowed 
pace and had not yet been submitted for approval at year's end.

Since President Ndadaye's 1993 amnesty decree, there have been 
no clearly identifiable political prisoners in Burundi.  
However, police bring charges of involvement in violent crimes 
or disturbance of the peace against detainees in connection 
with political issues.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

The Constitution provides for the right to privacy and the 
authorities generally respect the law requiring search 
warrants.  Security forces can monitor telephones and are 
commonly assumed to do so.

     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
         Law in Internal Conflicts

Burundi's ethnic conflict did not erupt into civil war, but 
incidents of ethnic violence continued to plague the country.  
Ethnic violence resulted in 7 out of Bujumbura's 11 residential 
districts being largely segregated along ethnic lines between 
January and May.  Tutsis burned and looted Hutu homes in the 
Ngagara, Nyakabiga, Musaga, and Cibitoke quarters.  Hutus 
responded in kind in Kamenge, Kinama and Kanyosha.  In both 
cases, fleeing individuals were often killed.

Credible witnesses alleged that troops pursuing armed Hutu 
militants killed unarmed civilians, including women and 
children, in rural Bujumbura, Muramvya, Gitega and Kayanza 
provinces.  In two major operations in the Kamenge suburb of 
Bujumbura in March and September, soldiers in each foray shot 
and bayoneted more than 200 unarmed civilians, including women 
and children.

Elements within the civilian intelligence organization provided 
arms and encouragement to armed Hutu militants attacking 
military patrols and stationary outposts in the interior and in 
Bujumbura.  Hutus in the interior frequently attacked small 
numbers of displaced Tutsis as they attempted to return to 
their homes.  Military troops on legitimate disarmament 
operations frequently targeted noncombatants or destroyed homes 
or markets without authorization or provocation.  Displaced 
Tutsis, often with the help of members of the military or armed 
Tutsis from the capital, attacked Hutus and burned homes in 
turn, maintaining a cycle of retribution.  Witnesses report 
over 800 deaths from ethnic violence in Muyinga province alone.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for the right to free opinion and 
expression so long as these rights are expressed "in a manner 
consistent with the public law and order."  In practice, these 
rights are circumscribed by the Government's unrestrained 
exercise of this proviso.  The 1992 Press Law, not enforced 
until December 1993, restricts criticism of government 
policies, the person of the President, and statements which the 
authorities, at their discretion, could construe as contrary to 
national unity or injurious to the national economy.  The law 
also provides for government review and possible censorship of 
all media prior to distribution.  In practice, private 
newspapers were published without prior government review and 
no cases of seizure were recorded.

Twenty-five newspapers appear regularly, in addition to the 
government-owned French-language daily Le Renouveau.  There are 
13 weekly and 3 monthly French-language newspapers; the 
remainder are Kirundi-language publications, but journalistic 
standards are low and most papers were simply political party 
newsletters.  Others were consistent and energetic organs of 
ethnic hatred.  No newspaper was banned or suppressed.

In August an undetermined source threatened and harassed three 
senior editors of La Semaine, the most independent of the 
French-language newspapers, as they were researching a report 
on the military.  They fled the country.

Most citizens relied on the government-controlled radio 
programming in French, Kirundi, and Swahili for information.  
Newspaper readership, however, remained limited.  Burundi's two 
government-owned radio stations (one broadcasting in Kirundi, 
the other in French, Swahili, and English) allowed political 
parties equal broadcasting opportunities in rotation.  Some 
opposition parties complained that this arrangement provided 
insufficient access.  In 1994, clandestine radio messages, 
originating from unknown sources, were used to incite ethnic 
hatred.

Academic freedom has not been tested.  The Civil Code does not 
address academic freedom.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

A 1991 decree-law established guidelines for granting permits 
for public meetings or parades.  The Government granted 
opposition parties permits for several public rallies and 
demonstrations, but it occasionally denied this permission when 
it alleged that the lead time was insufficient to arrange 
adequate security; most meetings were subsequently 
rescheduled.  Since the June 1993 elections, there have been no 
reports of government harassment or bureaucratic obstacles to 
the formation of associations in rural areas.  However, rural 
residents other than those gathered in displaced camps were not 
inclined to form associations for reasons of general security.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

There is no state religion and the Government made no attempt 
to restrict freedom of worship by adherents of any religion.  
However, ethnic alignments by religious affiliation led to 
polarization, violence, and to mutual attacks on one another's 
churches by representatives of the Catholic majority and of 
various Protestant denominations.

     d.  Freedom of Movement within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Immigration, and Repatriation

In general, the Government made no attempt to restrict 
citizens' travel for political reasons, either internally or 
abroad.  However, in one incident, officials of the 
Tutsi-dominated Burundi immigration office denied exit to 23 
Hutu students traveling on government scholarships to Bangui, 
on the grounds that the majority FRODEBU Party was sending the 
youths for paramilitary training.  The immigration office 
presented no evidence for the claim but nonetheless prevented 
the students from leaving the country.

Burundi now faces repatriation of several hundred thousand 
indigent Hutu refugees who fled after the presidential 
assassination and 1993 coup attempt, as well as the continued 
repatriation of refugees from 1972 and 1991.  In addition, 
nearly 600,000 internally displaced persons remain in camps or 
dispersed in the hills.  In April and May approximately 90,000 
Tutsi refugees entered freely from Rwanda.  In June violence in 
Rwanda drove Hutu refugees into Burundi and the UNHCR reported 
several incidents of Tutsi attacks on Hutu refugees.  The 
Government made tentative efforts to resettle repatriating 
refugees on a voluntary basis.

By October most Tutsi refugees had returned to Rwanda, while 
approximately 216,000 Rwandan Hutu refugees remained in Burundi 
at year's end.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The Constitution provides for free, multiparty elections by 
secret ballot, with a 5-year term of office for both the 
President and members of the National Assembly.  The October 
1993 assassination of the elected President, National Assembly 
President, and National Assembly Vice President exhausted 
constitutional provisions for presidential succession.  Since 
security conditions precluded new elections, negotiations, 
which included a broad spectrum of political parties and other 
civic organizations, were held, resulting in the formation of a 
coalition Government.

There are no legal restrictions on the participation of women 
or indigenous peoples in elections or politics, although in 
practice, both groups are underrepresented.  Women currently 
hold 2 of 22 Cabinet ministries and 9 of 81 National Assembly 
seats.  Though the Twa (approximately 1 percent of the 
population) voted in the 1993 elections, none ran for office 
nor participated actively in the political process.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigations of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Private citizens harassed and threatened members of one 
independent human rights group, Iteka, who left the country 
after receiving threats on their lives.  Local human rights 
groups received varying degrees of cooperation from government 
ministries.

At the Government's request, a group of international human 
rights organizations conducted an inquiry in January into 
responsibility for the October 1993 coup attempt and subsequent 
massacres.  The report, published in July, indicated extensive 
military and civilian complicity in the coup attempt and 
excessive and unnecessary use of force by the army and police.  
The report also concluded that some local FRODEBU government 
administrators participated in or incited the ensuing violence 
against Tutsis and UPRONA Hutus in the provinces, but found no 
evidence of an organized FRODEBU plan of massacre at a national 
level.  The military and the political opposition immediately 
dismissed the report as biased, inaccurate, and incomplete.

Other human rights groups including Amnesty International sent 
delegations as well.  Physicians for Human Rights reported 
resistance from local military authorities when visiting the 
site of a mass grave suspected to be that of the refugees 
murdered June 11 in Kirundo province.  Local military officers 
prevented Physicians for Human Rights and other observers from 
examining the grave site and discouraged local residents from 
speaking with the group.

The International Committee of the Red Cross reported good 
cooperation from government authorities in its prison visits.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution explicitly provides equal status and 
protection for all citizens, without distinction based on sex, 
origin, ethnicity, religion, or opinion.

     Women

Women hold a secondary place in society and face both legal and 
societal discrimination.  Explicitly discriminatory inheritance 
laws and discriminatory financial credit practices remain 
unchanged.  Although women by law must receive the same pay as 
men for the same jobs, women are far less likely to hold any 
mid- or high-level positions.  In rural areas, women 
traditionally perform hard farm work and have far less 
opportunity for education than men enjoy.

Violence against women occurs, but there is no documentation of 
its extent.  Wives have the right to bring physical abuse 
charges against their husbands.  In practice this rarely 
occurs.  Police do not normally intervene in domestic disputes, 
and the press does not report incidents of violence against 
women, including rape.  There were no known court cases dealing 
with abuse of women.

     Children

The Government has taken no action to protect children's 
rights, nor has it addressed the growing problem of the 
increasing population of orphans which resulted from the 
violence of 1993 and 1994.

     Indigenous People

The indigenous Twa (Pygmy) minority remained almost completely 
marginalized, economically, socially, and politically.  Most 
Twa continued to live in isolation, uneducated, and without 
access to government services, including health care.  The Twa 
voted in the 1993 election, but are otherwise outside the 
political process.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Burundi's fundamental problem continues to be ethnic conflict 
between majority Hutus, who gained political power only with 
the election of Ndadaye, and minority Tutsis, who have 
historically held power and still control the military and 
dominate educated society.  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.

The Ndadaye administration upon assuming office began a more 
concerted effort to put its FRODEBU faithful into the 
government bureaucracy.  Those policy changes quickly led to 
increased tensions between long-term Tutsi professionals and 
the FRODEBU Government.

     People with Disabilities

The Government has not enacted legislation or otherwise 
mandated access to buildings or government services for people 
with disabilities.  Burundi's rudimentary economy effectively 
excludes the physically disabled from many types of 
employment.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution and the Labor Code nominally protect the 
rights of workers to form unions, though the military, the 
gendarmerie and certain expatriates working in the public 
sector are prohibited from union participation.  Most workers 
are urban civil servants.

Since its independence from the Government in 1992, the 
national umbrella trade union organization, the Organization of 
Free Unions of Burundi (CSB), has been financially dependent on 
a system of voluntary checkoffs, as are local unions.  The CSB 
represented labor in drafting negotiations for the revised 
Labor Code and has participated in 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 confederations outside the 
CSB.

Unions are able to affiliate with international organizations.  
The Labor Code also provides workers with the right to strike.  
Restrictions on the right to strike and lockout are several:  
that the action must be taken only after exhausting all other 
peaceful means of resolution; that negotiations must continue 
during the action, mediated by a mutually agreeable party or by 
the Government; and that 6 days' notice must be given.  The law 
prohibits retribution against workers participating in a legal 
strike and this is upheld in practice.

In September the Labor Court decided in favor of workers in the 
national data processing center strike, in process since 
October 1993.  In the year's only other strike, teachers in 
several regions of the country struck briefly, and 
successfully, in September over their inability to claim assets 
from an obligatory savings program.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Labor Code 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, 
although 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 Labor Code prohibits employers from firing or otherwise 
discriminating against a worker because of union affiliation or 
activity.  This right is upheld in practice.

There are no export processing zones, although a decree-law 
making the entire country a free zone for many nontraditional, 
export-oriented activities was promulgated in 1992.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor and it is not 
practiced.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The Labor Code states that children under the age of 16 are not 
allowed to be employed by "an enterprise" even as apprentices, 
although it also states that they may undertake occasional work 
which does not damage their health or schooling.  In practice, 
young children do heavy manual labor in rural areas in daytime 
during the school year, including transporting bricks on their 
heads.  Children are legally prohibited from working at night, 
although many do so in the informal sector.  Children are 
obligated by custom and economic necessity to help support 
their families by participating in activities related to 
subsistence agriculture in family-based enterprises and the 
informal sector.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The formal minimum wage for unskilled workers is $0.58 (140 
Burundi francs) per day in Bujumbura and Gitega and $0.37 (88 
Burundi francs) in the rest of the country, with a graduated 
scale for greater skill levels.  This amount does not allow a 
family to maintain a decent standard of living and most 
families rely on second incomes and subsistence agriculture to 
do so.  Employees working under a contract, particularly in 
urban areas, generally earn significantly more than the minimum 
wage.  All employees in the public sector work under contract.  
The CSB estimates that 70 percent of employees working in the 
formal private sector are covered by a contract.

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, the Ministry does not enforce the 
Code effectively.  Health and safety articles in the Labor Code 
do not directly address the workers' right to remove themselves 
from a dangerous work situation.
(###)

[end of document]

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