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Title:  Burundi Human Rights Practices, 1995
Author:  U.S. Department of State 
Date:  March 1996 
 
 
 
 
                                    BURUNDI 
 
 
Burundi's first democratically elected government retained power despite 
the assassination of President Melchior Ndadaye, an ethnic Hutu, in an 
October 1993 coup attempt, and the death of his successor, Cyprien 
Ntaryamira, a Hutu, in a suspicious April 1994 plane crash.  The 
Government consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, 
which operate under the 1992 Constitution and the September 1994 
Convention of Government.  The Constitution provides for an independent 
judiciary, but in practice it is dominated by the Tutsi ethnic group. 
 
The Convention of Government created a 10-member National Security 
Council, led by the President and Prime Minister, to mediate between the 
branches of government as needed.  Real power, however, lies with the 
military and the minority opposition headed by the Tutsi-dominated 
UPRONA Party, which obtained a number of power sharing concessions from 
the majority, Hutu-dominated FRODEBU party in presidential succession 
negotiations following President Ntaryamira's death.  While a multiparty 
political system remains in place, effective authority is limited due to 
both a strong political opposition and a lack of effective control of 
the military. 
 
Political conflict between the majority Hutu and opposition Tutsi 
parties has paralyzed the Government.  Several Hutu ministers received 
anonymous death threats; two were murdered. Tensions between Burundi's 
ethnic Tutsi minority--which historically maintained political, 
economic, and military control over the country--and the Hutu majority 
remain high.  Violent conflict between Hutu and Tutsi armed militants as 
well as the army has plunged the country into a spiral of ethnic 
violence verging on civil war that has not spared the civilian 
population. 
 
Security forces consist of the army and the 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 the Interior.  The high command of the Tutsi-dominated 
military professes loyalty to the elected government and neutrality in 
political negotiations.  However, the military has committed at least 
four massacres of unarmed civilian Hutus and frequently permitted Tutsi 
extremists to create civil disturbances and engage in violence against 
Hutus.  Hutu rebel forces have also massacred both Hutu and Tutsi 
civilians. 
 
Burundi is 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 ongoing 
violence since the October 1993 coup has caused severe disruptions and 
dislocations.  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 human rights situation generally deteriorated as the security forces 
and armed civilian groups committed extensive serious human rights 
abuses, which the Government was largely unable to prevent.  
Perpetrators generally went unpunished.  Because of its superior 
firepower and wide dispersion, the most serious abuses involved actions 
by the armed forces.  Serious incidents of ethnically motivated 
destruction and extrajudicial killing occurred throughout the country.  
Armed troops brutally killed both armed and unarmed ethnic rivals, 
including women, children, and the elderly. 
 
Government efforts to restore security were inadequate.  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 the 
public's perception of its partiality to Tutsi officials. 
 
There continued to be disappearances and credible reports of the torture 
of prisoners.  Prison conditions remain life threatening.  Legal and 
societal discrimination against women continues to be a serious problem; 
violence against women also occurs.  The Twa (Pygmy) minority remained 
almost completely marginalized. 
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from: 
 
  a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 
 
Amnesty International estimates that between October 1993 and December 
1995 over 100,000 people were killed in ethnic violence.  The Army was 
more responsible than any other group for these deaths, and also 
frequently committed abuses in Government-approved operations to disarm 
civilians.  In addition to extrajudicial killings by the armed forces, 
armed militias and other combatant groups perpetrated unlawful, 
politically and ethnically motivated killings of political opponents and 
members of the other ethnic groups. 
 
In June the military, in pursuit of armed Hutu militants, entered 
Bujumbura's Kamenge neighborhood and killed an estimated 150 civilians, 
including women, children, and the elderly, according to a high-ranking 
Hutu government official.   
 
Many were shot at close range.  In July a soldier shot and killed a 
driver employed by the National Democratic Institute (NDI).  No one has 
been prosecuted for the killings in Kamenge; an investigation into the 
death of the NDI driver was underway at year's end. 
 
An army operation August 28 at Choga Hill near Bujumbura resulted in the 
killing of an estimated 30 to 50 civilians.  Choga townspeople brought 
four brutally slain civilians to the Unity Monument; two were women, two 
were children.  The two women had been shot in the chest.  One of the 
dead children was a boy of 5 whose head had been split open.  The second 
child was a boy about 10 years old who had been bayoneted in the 
stomach.   
 
A Western observer reported that he had seen soldiers shoot a mother, 
father, and child at point blank range near Bujumbura on September 9. 
 
Men dressed in army uniforms reportedly killed a Hutu Catholic priest in 
Marenga, 90 kilometers northeast of Bujumbura.  The assailants dragged 
the priest from church during mass.  Later, they bayonetted and 
discarded his body.  According to a local human rights group, witnesses 
report that in June a Hutu priest was abducted by a group of young men 
in downtown Bujumbura.  His body was found two days later in the Tutsi 
neighborhood of Bwiza in Bujumbura.   
 
In August and September alone, eight Burundian Catholic priests were 
murdered throughout the country.  On September 30, two Italian priests 
and a lay missionary were murdered at their mission in Buyengero.  
According to government officials, three soldiers accused of the 
priests' murder "escaped" from the custody of the authorities in October 
and have not been recaptured.  A fourth person reportedly remains in 
custody.   
 
In November elements of the military killed 421 unarmed villagers at 
Gasarara; most were children.  Tutsi civilian authorities reportedly 
accompanied the soldiers responsible for the massacre to a church were 
many villagers were hiding.  The Government ordered a ministerial 
investigation. 
 
In Bujumbura Hutu and Tutsi paramilitary and vigilante youth groups 
shot, stoned, beat, and stabbed to death people of differing ethnicity.  
In the countryside, armed Hutu gangs ambushed army units, who in turn 
carried out vengeance attacks with armed Tutsi gangs against Hutu 
civilians.  In many areas of the country, both Hutu and Tutsi civilians 
continued to be killed in sporadic violence perpetrated by government 
security forces and armed gangs. 
 
In March armed Hutu militants murdered three Belgian civilians, 
including a 3-year-old, in a highway ambush south of  
 
Bujumbura.  In May a Greek employee of Catholic Relief Services was 
murdered in Kirundo province.  In April an armed attack by  Hutu rebels 
against a military post in the city of Gasorwe resulted in the deaths of 
two soldiers and five attackers.  Authorities failed to identify 
perpetrators in these incidents. 
 
In two separate incidents during May, armed insurgents ambushed soldiers 
in the provinces of rural Bujumbura and Cibitoke, killing five and 
seriously wounding one.  The perpetrators escaped in both incidents.  In 
June unidentified attackers ambushed a motorcade carrying the Minister 
of External Relations and the U.S. ambassador.  The attack, for which no 
group claimed responsibility, resulted in the deaths of one army officer 
and an Organization for African Unity (OAU) captain from Burkina Faso.  
In addition, eight other members of the motorcade were wounded, 
including three OAU personnel, four soldiers, and one security guard. 
 
In June at least 17 Hutu university students were killed in revenge 
attacks for the killing of 2 Tutsi high school students earlier that 
day.  In August a group of Hutu militants attacked and brutally killed a 
Tutsi officer and his pregnant wife, whom they eviscerated.  In 
September unidentified attackers ambushed a vehicle convoy carrying the 
Archbishop of Gitega, a Tutsi, north of Bujumbura.  Three people were 
killed and several people were wounded.  No one was arrested and charged 
in any of these crimes.   
 
In 2 incidents during May and June, unidentified civilians threw 
grenades into Bujumbura's central market, killing a total of 8 and 
injuring more than 30 people.  Police forces have made no arrests in 
those incidents.  It was not clear whether the attacks were criminally, 
personally, or politically motivated.  Increasingly in Bujumbura, all 
three elements, in varying degrees, motivated incidents of violence. 
 
Armed ethnic groups carried out assassinations throughout the year.  In 
January a lone attacker stabbed to death the Hutu governor of Muyinga 
province.  The attacker was not apprehended, and the exact motive of the 
attack remained uncertain.  However, earlier on the day he was killed, 
the governor had publicly condemned armed Hutu insurgents operating in 
the province. 
 
In March gunmen shot and killed the (Hutu) Minister of Energy and Mines 
in downtown Bujumbura.  The Government established a commission of 
inquiry into the murder and took two suspects into custody.  In March a 
group of Hutu militants abducted and brutally murdered a retired Tutsi 
army lieutenant colonel in northern Bujumbura.  Many viewed the attack 
as vengeance against the Tutsis for the murder of the Minister of Energy 
and Mines.  Eight suspects have been arrested.  No trial for these 
killings had taken place by year's end. 
 
In May the Hutu chief of cabinet for the Ministry of Health was abducted 
and murdered in Bujumbura.  His body, recovered in a river, bore 
indications of torture.  Conflicting reports blame both Hutu militants 
and government security forces.  A suspect has been arrested, but no 
trial has taken place. 
 
Also in May unknown assailants assassinated a local Hutu administrator 
in Cibitoke province.  The administrator was reportedly outspoken 
against the military.  In June a Hutu professor and director of research 
for the University of Burundi was assassinated in his office by an 
unknown gunman.  Following his death all Hutu professors fled the 
campus.  Some have since returned. 
 
In July unknown assailants abducted and murdered the Hutu counsellor for 
diplomatic and political affairs at the National Assembly.  The National 
Assembly president accused the military of the murder.  The military 
accused Hutu militants of trying to discredit them.  No arrest was made 
in the case. 
 
The military and Ministry of Justice report that the military issued 
approximately 3,500 sanctions against its personnel for excesses carried 
out against civilians between October 1993 and July 1995.  Of the 3,500 
sanctions, 238 resulted in prison sentences, of which 2 are life 
sentences. 
 
National efforts to investigate those responsible for the October 1993 
coup attempt and subsequent violence have made little progress.  The 
Ministry of Justice reports that a national commission of inquiry 
created in 1994 has resulted in the arrests of 100 people (including 
military personnel) believed to be associated with the coup attempt.  
Although the commission has not been dissolved, it no longer functions. 
 
Many of those arrested in connection with the 1993 coup attempt and 
subsequent ethnic violence were not tried, although they remained in 
custody as a result of political gridlock in the National Assembly which 
prevented the appointment of court personnel and the reconstitution of 
the criminal courts.  In September, however, the President bypassed the 
Assembly and, through presidential decree, made new judicial 
appointments which allowed the reconstitution of the criminal courts.  
By year's end criminal courts were functioning at Bujumbura, Gitega, and 
Ngozi.   
 
  b.  Disappearance 
 
Local human rights groups reported that abduction and disappearance were 
commonplace occurrences throughout the year.  Disappearances were the 
result of both political and ethnic rivalry.  Valid numerical estimates 
were not available, as many disappearances were not reported and some 
may have been civil crimes.  Disappearances in the countryside are 
reported even less frequently. 
 
A well-informed source reports that on April 15 police at a military 
checkpoint in rural Bujumbura arrested a Hutu man with no known 
political affiliation.  Police said that the man was released on April 
17, yet the man's family, working through a local human rights group, 
maintains that he disappeared while in police custody.  A local human 
rights group said that in September three Hutu men, arrested by the 
police in the Kamange neighborhood of Bujumbura, disappeared while in 
custody.  Police told the human rights group that the men had been 
released a few days after their arrests. 
 
In March a group of Hutu militants abducted and murdered a retired Tutsi 
military officer in northern Bujumbura (see Section 1.a.)).  There was 
no further information on six Tutsis who disappeared in 1994. 
 
  c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
The Constitution prohibits these abuses, but they occur in practice.  In 
March Amnesty International delegates interviewed prisoners who bore 
clear marks of torture.   
 
State-run prison conditions were life threatening and characterized by 
severe overcrowding and inadequate hygiene, clothing, medical care, 
food, and water.  Four or five persons were forced to share a poorly 
ventilated cell two 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.  Human rights monitors are reportedly 
permitted to visit prisons.   
 
In April security forces discovered Hutu militants operating a civilian 
prison in the Hutu neighborhood of Kamenge where two people were being 
held.  Four prisoners who had been tied up and beaten were discovered in 
another Hutu jail in Kamenge.  In September a well-informed source 
reported the presence of a private prison run by Tutsi militants in the 
Bwiza neighborhood of Bujumbura.  Scalping and mutilation, including the 
breaking of limbs and cutting off of ears, were reportedly carried out 
at this prison.   
 
  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.  A 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 also allows unlimited pretrial detention.  The police are 
obligated to follow the same procedures as magistrates, but have 
detained people for extended periods without announcing charges, 
certifying the cases, or forwarding them to the Ministry of Justice as 
required.  Bail is permitted in some cases.  Incommunicado detention 
reportedly exists, although the law prohibits it. 
 
The disruption of the political process and the general level of 
insecurity within the country severely impeded the judicial process.  
Pretrial detainees constituted about 75 percent of the prison population 
of approximately 4,000 inmates. 
 
The Constitution prohibits political exile, and the Government did not 
use forced exile as a means of political control.  However, many people 
chose voluntary exile in Zaire and elsewhere.  Many high-level officials 
keep their families outside Burundi.  The Minister of External Relations 
fled the country in June, while in August the Minister of 
Transportation, Posts, and Telecommunications also fled, both out of 
fear for their safety. 
 
  e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, but in practice 
the judiciary is dominated by the Tutsi ethnic group.  Hutus accounted 
for 13 of the country's 228 judges and lawyers.  The President's 
authority to appoint judges and to pardon or reduce sentences was 
limited by constitutional amendment in September 1994 during 
presidential succession negotiations.  Most citizens assume the courts 
still promote the interests of the dominant Tutsi minority, and members 
of the Hutu majority perceive that the Tutsi-dominated judicial system 
is biased against them.   
 
The judicial system was severely disrupted as a result of the October 
1993 coup attempt, the repeated presidential succession negotiations in 
1994, and the ongoing violence in 1995.  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; it provides for 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.  Defendants are 
presumed innocent and have the right to appeal.  While defendants have a 
right to counsel and to defend themselves, few have legal representation 
in practice. 
 
The criminal court system has not functioned since October 1993.  Those 
arrested on criminal charges since October 1993 remained in custody 
awaiting trial.  The civil court system functioned, although the lack of 
a well-trained and adequately supported judiciary constrained 
expeditious proceedings.  In September the President appointed by decree 
three judges and five jury members to each of the three criminal courts. 
The criminal court system provides for five-member juries, appointed by 
the President, which sit for 1-year periods.  The appointments will 
permit the system, whose structure remains unchanged, to resume 
functioning after a lapse of more than  
2 years.  During this time the President and National Assembly failed to 
agree on changes to its structure. 
 
Besides the frequent lack of counsel for the accused, other major 
shortcomings in the legal system include the lack of adequate resources 
and trained personnel and an outmoded legal code.  Most citizens have 
lost confidence in the system to provide even the most basic protection.  
This has contributed to the growing level of violence as revenge became 
the method of justice which private citizens carried out for themselves. 
 
Since the late President Ndadaye's 1993 amnesty decree, there have been 
no clearly identifiable political prisoners.  However, police often 
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, 
however, can monitor telephones and are commonly assumed to do so. 
 
  g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in 
Internal Conflicts 
 
Incidents of ethnic violence continued to plague the country, including 
a number of neighborhoods in Bujumbura.  From March through June, 
clashes between the army and Hutu militants in Bujumbura's Kamenge 
neighborhood resulted in the deaths of between 200 and 300 people, 
according to credible sources.  Many homes in Kamenge have been burned 
or razed.  In June alone, the army killed an estimated 150 civilians 
(see Section 1.a.).  Thousands of Bujumbura's residents fled the capital 
as a result of this fighting.  At present some 5,000 Hutus have returned 
to the Kinama neighborhood of Bujumbura.   
 
Violence in Kamenge and other Bujumbura neighborhoods continued 
throughout the year.  By the end of the year, only one of Bujumbura's 
neighborhoods was not segregated along ethnic  
 
lines.  Most Hutus reside on the fringes of the city, while Tutsis 
dominate neighborhoods in town. 
 
Credible witnesses said that troops pursuing armed Hutu militants killed 
unarmed civilians, including women and children in rural Bujumbura, 
Bubanza, Cibitoke, Muyinga, and Bururi provinces.  The army, as well as 
Hutu and Tutsi militants, deliberately targeted civilians.  A well-
informed government official estimated that 130,000 people had been 
displaced in Bubanza province as a result of violence. 
 
Violence and theft in the countryside has severely hampered the delivery 
of relief supplies and humanitarian assistance.  One international 
relief organization chose to deliver relief supplies by air due to lack 
of security on overland routes. 
 
In April armed bandits, with the complicity of the army, hijacked trucks 
with approximately 500 metric tons of donated food supplies in Muyinga 
province.  Two workers were killed. 
 
Hutus in the interior attacked displaced Tutsis attempting to return to 
their homes.  Military troops on legitimate disarmament operations 
targeted noncombatants or destroyed homes, crops, or markets without 
authorization and often without provocation.  Displaced Tutsis, often 
with the help of members of the military or armed Tutsis militants from 
the capital, attacked Hutus and burned homes in turn, maintaining a 
cycle of retribution. 
 
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, the Government respects this 
provisional guarantee, but has added new restrictions on what can be 
said.   
 
The 1992 Press Law 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 publication.  In practice, 
private newspapers were published without prior government review and no 
cases of seizure were recorded. 
 
In January the Government enacted a security measure which required that 
"every declaration made by the political parties over the national 
electronic media ... be submitted to a radio or television journalist" 
so that it might "be rewritten in a professional manner."  This measure 
had negligible results in practice.  Although political statements read 
by party leaders were no longer broadcast on television and radio, 
reporting of political rallies with extended excerpts of uncensored 
partisan speeches increased. 
 
In February the Government established a press unit within the public 
prosecutor's office to monitor the press.  Its purpose was to enforce 
the 1992 law which required daily newspapers to submit for government 
review two copies of each issue 4 hours before publication.  All other 
publications were required to submit to the Government two copies of 
each issue at least 24 hours prior to circulation.  This law was not 
enforced in practice, and newspapers ignored it with impunity. 
 
Twenty-five newspapers appeared regularly, in addition to the 
government-owned French-language daily Le Renouveau.  There were 13 
weekly and 3 monthly French-language newspapers.  The remainder were 
Kirundi-language publications.  Journalistic standards were low, and 
most newspapers were simply political party newsletters.  Others were 
consistent and energetic organs of ethnic hatred.  No newspaper was 
banned or suppressed by authorities.  Newspaper readership, however, 
remained limited. 
 
Most people relied on the two Government-owned radio stations for 
information.  One station broadcast in Kirundi, the other in French, 
Swahili, and English.  The two stations allowed political parties equal 
broadcasting opportunities in rotation.  Some opposition parties 
complained that the arrangement provided insufficient access.  Since 
1994 clandestine radio messages, originating from unknown sources and 
broadcasting intermittently, were used by Hutu rebel groups and by 
Leonard Nyangoma to attack the Government and the Tutsi establishment. 
 
The Civil Code does not address academic freedom.  Although no persons 
were persecuted for what they published or said, the University remains 
a monoethnic institution.  Hutu are discouraged from returning by other 
students.   
 
  b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 
 
A 1991 decree/law established guidelines for granting permits for public 
meetings or parades.  The Government often denied rally permit 
applications to the President's Hutu-dominated majority FRODEBU party.  
It claimed that it could not guarantee security.  The Government did 
grant 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. 
 
Unlike the situation in the capital, there were 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 did not form associations, fearing inadequate government 
security. 
 
  c.  Freedom of Religion 
 
The Constitution does provide for 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, in interethnic 
conflict, a number of Catholic priests were murdered (see Section 1.a.), 
evidently targets of opposition assailants.  The Government has scant 
ability to protect politically targeted clergy. 
 
Some Tutsi political leaders accused the Catholic Church of supporting 
the Hutus.  On September 22, for example, 8 days before the murders of 
the Italian priests, the newspaper of UPRONA, the most important Tutsi-
dominated party, published an article which claimed that the clergy was 
"hand-in-hand" with FRODEBU.  It also accused the Church of being 
responsible for the formation of FRODEBU, which it characterized as a 
"Nazi party with an ideology of genocide." 
 
  d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Immigration, and Repatriation 
 
The Constitution provides for these rights, but the Government 
restricted their exercise.  In general, the Government made no attempt 
to restrict citizen's travel for political reasons, either internally or 
abroad.  In January, July, and December, however, it closed the 
Bujumbura-Uvira, Zaire, border crossing to both Burundi and Rwandan 
citizens for 2- to 3-day periods, citing security reasons. 
 
Political parties and civilian militant groups at times prevented 
citizens traveling to work and to other locations.  In February activity 
in the city of Bujumbura and provincial towns including Gitega, Rutana, 
Ngozi, and Kayanza came to a standstill for 3 days when the UPRONA Party 
conducted a peaceful protest against the Prime Minister.  In May Tutsi 
youths, through violence and intimidation, hindered free movement within 
Bujumbura for 3 days to force the release of fellow youth arrested for 
criminal wrongdoing. 
 
Movement throughout the country has been restricted by security concerns 
which the Government has not allayed.  Increasing banditry and ethnic 
violence perpetrated by armed gangs and the military has rendered travel 
in the countryside perilous.  In most of the country, Hutus rarely enter 
Tutsi areas, and Tutsis rarely enter Hutu areas.  Military security 
checkpoints throughout the country effectively restrict movement. 
 
Several hundred thousand Burundian refugees, most of them Hutu, remained 
in Zaire and Tanzania at year's end.  Many fled following the 
presidential assassination and coup attempt in October 1993.  Others 
fled as early as 1972; more fled this year. 
 
As a result of continuing ethnic and political violence, particularly in 
the northwest, little progress was made in repatriating either these 
refugees or in returning the internally displaced persons to their home 
communes.  Citizens continued to flee their homes in increasing numbers 
as a result of the growing violence.  This resulted in significant 
increases in the number of internally displaced persons as well as the 
number of Burundian refugees in eastern Zaire and northwestern Tanzania. 
 
More than half the population of the provinces of Cibitoke, Bubanza, and 
rural Bujumbura were estimated to be either refugees or internally 
displaced persons.  The high level of insecurity made it very difficult 
to assess accurately the number of internally displaced people or to 
provide adequate humanitarian assistance for them. 
 
In June Burundi, Rwanda, and the United Nations High Commissioner for 
Refugees formed a tripartite commission to facilitate the return of the 
more than 200,000 Rwandan refugees who fled to northern Burundi 
following the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.  These refugees, predominantly 
Hutu, were a growing source of concern to the Government, since their 
presence exacerbated ethnic tensions in the volatile northern provinces.  
The tripartite commission contributed to the voluntary repatriation of 
38,000 of Rwandan refugees. 
 
In April and May, the army forcibly returned to Rwanda groups of 30 and 
500 refugees respectively.  This forced repatriation of refugees was, 
however, not repeated. 
 
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.  Citizens exercised this right in 1993, but 
subsequent events eroded the power of the elected Government.  
Presidential succession negotiations following the October 1993 Ndadaye 
assassination and the April 1994 death of Ntaryamira led to a Convention 
of Government, signed in September 1994.  The Convention allows for the 
Interim President to remain in office until June 1998, at which time a 
new president will be elected.  National Assembly elections are also 
scheduled for June 1998.   
 
There are no legal restrictions on the participation of women or 
indigenous people in elections or politics.  In practice, however, both 
women and ethnic Twa (Pygmies), who comprise about 1 percent of the 
population, are underrepresented in government and politics.  Women 
currently hold 2 of 22 Cabinet seats and 9 of 81 National Assembly 
seats.  Although the Twa voted in the 1993 elections, none sought 
political office. 
 
Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights 
 
Local human rights groups received varying degrees of cooperation from 
government ministries.  The human rights group Iteka continued to 
operate and publish a newsletter on the human rights situation.  The 
Government welcomed international human rights groups, including Amnesty 
International and Human Rights Watch Africa.  The work of such 
organizations was hampered, however, by insecurity in the countryside 
and the Government's inability to protect human rights workers. 
 
An OAU military officer was killed and three other OAU personnel wounded 
in an attack in June on a motor convoy that included a government 
minister and the U.S. ambassador (see Section 1.a.).  In September an 
ambush of an OAU vehicle travelling in Karuzi province resulted in the 
death of the Burundian driver and the wounding of a Burundian soldier.  
The OAU subsequently suspended operations in Karuzi province.  In May a 
Greek relief worker was murdered in Kirundo province (see Section 1.a.). 
 
Local military authorities, often acting independently, frequently 
refused access to human rights and international aid workers.  Militant 
extremists, both Hutu and Tutsi, threatened the lives of people 
investigating human rights violations.  Some international human rights 
organizations expressed concern at a lack of government support in the 
face of such adversity. 
 
An international commission of inquiry was established to investigate 
the October 1993 assassination of President Ndadaye and its violent 
aftermath.  Burundi authorities first requested such a commission in 
late 1993 and formally set forth the request in the September 1994 
Convention of Government.  In August the Government informed the United 
Nations Security Council that it was willing to work with an 
international commission of inquiry.  Later in August, the U.N. Security 
Council adopted Resolution 1012 requesting the U.N. Secretary General to 
establish this commission.  In October the members of the Commission 
arrived in Burundi, but poor security initially hampered their work.  
Security for the Commission is being improved. 
 
The U.N. sent a fact-finding mission in February.  The Government 
allowed Amnesty International to send delegations to Burundi in March 
and May.  Numerous other international human rights organizations sent 
missions to Burundi. 
 
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.  However, the Government failed to enforce effectively all 
the Constitution's provisions. 
 
  Women 
 
Violence against women occurred, but there was no documentation of its 
extent.  Wives have the right to bring physical abuse charges against 
their husbands; in practice they rarely do so.  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. 
 
Women hold a secondary place in society and face both legal and societal 
discrimination.  Explicitly discriminatory inheritance laws and 
discriminatory financial credit practices remained 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 less 
opportunity for education than men. 
 
  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 continued violence since 1993.  Children have 
not been spared by belligerents in the civil conflict; many of the 
victims of massacres have been children. 
 
  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. 
 
  Indigenous People 
 
The 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 were 
otherwise outside the political process. 
 
  National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities 
 
Burundi's fundamental problem continued to be ethnic conflict between 
the majority Hutus, who gained political power only with the election of 
Ndadaye, and the 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 Hutus into the government bureaucracy.  Those policy 
changes quickly led to increased tensions between long-term Tutsi 
professionals and the FRODEBU Government.  Anonymous threats and 
assassinations of Hutu ministers and government officials took place 
under Ndadaye and continued this year.  Tutsi students have intimated 
Hutu students that University of Burundi.  There are almost no Hutus in 
attendance at the University.   
 
Section 6  Worker Rights 
 
  a.  The Right of Association 
 
The Constitution and the Labor Code nominally protect the rights of 
workers to form unions, although the military, the gendarmerie, and 
certain expatriates working in the public sector are prohibited from 
union participation.  Most workers are urban civil servants. 
 
Since gaining its independence from the Government in 1992, the 
country's first national umbrella trade union, 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 
collective bargaining negotiations in cooperation with individual labor 
unions.  Unions are Tutsi-dominated, reflecting the fact that it is 
mainly Tutsi who are employed in the formal sector of the economy.   
 
The Labor Code permits the formation of additional unions or 
confederations outside the CSB.  In March a second national umbrella 
trade union, the Confederation of Unions of Burundi (COSBYU), was 
formed.  COSBYU represents eight national unions.  The Teachers' Union 
was the only union outside the two umbrella trade union organizations 
this year. 
 
When settling disputes in which more than one labor union is 
represented, the law stipulates that the Minister of Labor will chose 
the union representing the greatest number of workers to participate in 
the negotiations. 
 
Unions are able to affiliate with international organizations.  The 
Labor Code also provides workers with a restricted right to strike.  
Restrictions on the right to strike and lockout are several:  the action 
must be taken only after exhausting all other peaceful means of 
resolution; negotiations must continue during the action, mediated by a 
mutually agreeable party or by the Government; and 6 days' notice must 
be given.  The law prohibits retribution against workers participating 
in a legal strike and this provision is upheld in practice. 
 
Three nationwide strikes took place this year.  In July the National 
Teachers and Nurses Union went on strike to demand higher salaries.  The 
strikers were unsuccessful and after discussions with the Government 
returned to work. 
 
The two other major strikes were tied to the political situation.  
Employees of the National Institute of Social Security struck in August 
to demand the dismissal of the Institute's director of finance, whom 
they accused of mismanagement.  The employees also demanded the 
formation of a new board of directors.  The Institute's director of 
finance was Hutu and a FRODEBU member, while the striking employees were 
mostly Tutsis and members of UPRONA, the most important Tutsi-dominated 
party.  Although the director of finance did not formally resign, he 
stopped work in September.  In the same month, employees resumed work as 
negotiations on the board of directors continued. 
 
In August employees of the National Office of Telecommunications 
(Onatel), who were mostly Tutsi, struck to demand the dismissal of 
Onatel's four executive directors, all Hutus, whom they accused of 
mismanagement.  The employees also demanded the formation of a new board 
of directors.  Onatel's employees resumed work in September after a new 
board of directors was formed and three of the four executive directors 
were dismissed.  The only executive director who retained his position 
belonged to the UPRONA Party.  The three who were dismissed were members 
of different Hutu-dominated political parties. 
 
  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 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 interfere with their schooling.  In practice, in rural 
areas children under age 16 do heavy manual labor such as transporting 
bricks in daytime during the school year. 
 
Children are legally prohibited from working at night, although many do 
so in the informal sector.  Children are obliged 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 (145 Burundi 
francs) per day in Bujumbura and Gitega and $0.48 (120 Burundi francs) 
in the rest of the country, with a graduated scale for greater skill 
levels.  This amount does not allow a worker and family to maintain a 
decent standard of living, and most families rely on second incomes and 
subsistence agriculture to supplement their earnings.  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.  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 workers' right to remove themselves from a dangerous 
work situation. 
 
(###)

[end of document]

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