BURUNDI: Children's Rights in UN Treaty Body Reports

Summary: This report extracts mentions of children's rights issues in the reports of all UN Treaty Bodies and their follow-up procedures. This does not include the Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child which are available here: http://www.crin.org/resources/treaties/index.asp

Please note that the language may have been edited in places for the purposes of clarity.


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UN Human Rights Committee


Last reported: 12 July 1994  
Concluding Observations issued: 3 August 1994

Issues raised and recommendations given:      

Education: Strenuous efforts should be made to educate and inform the whole of Burundi society regarding human rights. This campaign should take account of Burundi's traditions and customs, including the role of mothers in educating their children. (Para. 13)


UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights


Last reported: 21 and 22 September 2015
Concluding Observations issued: 16 October 2015

Issues raised:

Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation: The Committee is concerned by the definition of homosexuality as a crime in the Criminal Code and by Ministerial Order No. 620/613 of 7 June 2011, whereby children may be refused schooling on the grounds of their sexual orientation (art. 2, para. 2). (para 17)

The Committee recommends that the State party repeal all provisions that could lead to the discrimination, prosecution or punishment of individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity and that it take all appropriate steps to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals may exercise all the rights enshrined in the Covenant. (para 18)

Economic exploitation of children: The Committee notes that the minimum age for employment established in national legislation is in line with international standards. It is concerned, however, that children continue to be subjected to economic exploitation in the State party (art. 10). (para 37)

The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to effectively prevent and combat the economic exploitation of children, especially in the informal sector. In this regard, the State party should ensure that child labour legislation is properly enforced, that individuals who exploit children are duly punished and that there is effective enforcement of child labour legislation. The Committee recommends also that disadvantaged families be afforded support so that they may rise out of poverty and social exclusion, which often lie at the origin of the economic exploitation of children. (para 38)

Corporal punishment: The Committee notes with concern that there is no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment in the home and that such punishment is widely tolerated and practised in Burundian society, including in schools, alternative care settings and prisons (art. 10). (para 39)

The Committee strongly urges the State party to adopt legislative and other measures to prohibit and prevent corporal punishment of children under any circumstances, in particular in schools, alternative care settings, prisons and the home. (para 40)

Abandoned children: The Committee is concerned by the number of children who are not living with their families, in particular children with HIV/AIDS (art. 10). (para 41)

The Committee recommends that the State party take all necessary steps to provide support to families so that children are not forced to live away from their families or, when such separation cannot be avoided, to ensure placement in an alternative care setting that allows the child to enjoy an environment that provides similar support. (para 42)

Right to adequate food: The Committee notes with concern that, despite the launching of the National Agricultural Strategy and the National Agricultural Investment Plan, much of the population lives in a situation of food insecurity. It is also concerned by the high levels of chronic child malnutrition. (para 49)

The Committee recommends that the State party step up efforts to ensure the right to adequate food and to address hunger and child malnutrition, in particular in rural areas. The Committee also recommends that the State party redouble its efforts to boost productivity among small-scale farmers by making appropriate technologies available to them, in line with their right to enjoy the benefits of scientific advances, and by enhancing their access to local markets with a view to raising rural income levels. The Committee refers the State party to its general comment No. 12 (1999) on the right to adequate food and to the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security, adopted by the Council of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (para 50)

Maternal and child mortality: The Committee notes with concern that, although the State party has instituted a policy of providing healthcare to children under 5 and pregnant women at no charge, maternal and child mortality rates continue to be very high (art. 12). (para 53)

The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Intensify efforts to bring down the high rates of infant mortality and mortality of children under 5 and to take steps to ensure that births are attended by qualified health professionals. [...]
(d) Develop and strengthen sexual and reproductive health education for boys and girls at all primary and secondary schools, ensuring that it is comprehensive and age-appropriate. (para 54)

Education: The Committee notes with satisfaction the increase in primary school enrolment, which was the result mainly of the State party’s decision to make education available free of charge. The Committee is concerned, however, by:
(a) The reports that there continue to be indirect costs associated with school attendance, such as payments that parents are required to make which limit access to education, in particular for Batwa children;
(b) The continued unequal access to education for internally displaced children, children with disabilities and children with albinism;
(c) The number of children enrolled in primary education who do not finish their schooling;
(d) The high dropout rate in secondary education, in particular among girls (art. 13);
(e) The poor quality of instruction owing to the shortage of qualified teachers and the lack of teaching materials and infrastructure. (para 57)

The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to ensure that primary education is indeed provided free of any charge, that it take the necessary steps to ensure access of all children to the education system by encouraging inclusive education for children with disabilities, and that it address as a priority the high dropout rates in primary and secondary education, in particular among girls. It also recommends that the State party improve school quality and infrastructure, in particular in rural areas, and that it ensure that all rural schools have adequate water supply and sanitation, and in particular separate washrooms for boys and girls. (para 58)

UN Committee against Torture


 Last reported: 9 and 10 November 2006
Concluding Observations adopted: 20 November 2006

Concerns raised:

  • Sexual violence as a weapon: The Committee is alarmed at reports of large-scale sexual violence against children by State officials and armed groups, the use of rape as a weapon of war, the apparent impunity of perpetrators and the extra-judicial and amicable settlement of cases, including marriage between the rapist and the victim as a solution.

    The Committee recommends measures to eliminate the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators, whether State officials or non-State actors, to improve the conduct of inquiries, the judicial prosecution of perpetrators and to carry out appropriate punishments. It urges Burundi to take measures to help rehabilitate victims and reform the Criminal Code to criminalise acts of violence appropriately. (paragraph 11)

  • Conditions of detention: Committee remains deeply concerned at the appalling detention conditions prevailing in Burundi, which amount to inhuman and degrading treatment., despite some improvements obtained through assistance provided by the European Union. Problems include overcrowding, lack of food and medical care, poor hygiene and a shortage of resources. The segregation of men, women and children, as well as of convicted persons and persons awaiting trial is not guaranteed. Such conditions include overcrowding, lack of food and medical care that puts lives at risk, poor hygiene and a shortage of material, human and financial resources. The treatment of prisoners remains a matter of concern for the Committee, in particular the fact that minors and women are not segregated from adults and men respectively, and that those awaiting trial are not segregated from convicted prisoners, except in Ngozi prison, where the men's quarters are separate from the women's and children's quarters (arts. 11 and 16).. (paragraph 17)
  • Sexual violence in detention: The Committee is deeply concerned about the widespread sexual violence against women and children, particularly in places of detention (art. 11). The State party should establish and promote an effective mechanism for receiving complaints of sexual violence, including in custodial facilities, investigating these complaints and providing victims with psychological and medical protection and care. The State party should consider adopting a national plan of action to eradicate violence against women and child(paragraph 18)
  • Rehabilitation: Despite declarations of intent by the government, there is still no provision to compensate victims of torture. Child soldiers in particular lack the means to exercise their right to full rehabilitation. The Committee encourages Burundi to take steps to facilitate the establishment of a compensation fund for victims of torture. The right of victims, especially of child soldiers, to have access to physical, psychological, social and financial rehabilitation should be respected. (paragraph 23)
  • Health care: Hospitalised patients, including children, are often detained in hospitals for several months if they are unable to pay their medical expenses. The Committee is alarmed at the conditions under which such patients are held, particularly the fact that they are denied food and medical treatment The State party should take urgent steps to release persons detained in hospitals, in accordance with article 16 of the Convention and article 11 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Burundi is a party, and which states that "no one shall be imprisoned merely on the ground of inability to fulfil a contractual obligation". (paragraph 26)


UN Committee against Torture: Follow-up

The Committee requested Burundi to present more information on particular areas of concern identified in its initial report by November 2007. The Committee sent a reminder in April 2008.

The reminder includes a request for more information about steps taken to provide victims, including child soldiers, with the means to exercise their right to the fullest possible physical, psychological, social and financial rehabilitation.


UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women



18 November 2016

Positive Developments: The Committee welcomes the fact that, in the period since the consideration of the previous report, the State party has ratified or acceded to the following international and regional instruments: Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, both in 2008. The committee recommends that the state continue cooperating with the ICC Prosecutor regarding the ongoing preliminary examination and any eventual formal investigation or prosecution, to enable the Prosecutor to monitor and document as well as determine the full scale and scope of human rights violations perpetrated against the civilian population, including women and girls (paras 6, 7).

General Context: The Committee notes that the State party has been facing political instability since April 2015, which has resulted in an increase in violence and high levels of insecurity in the State party. The Committee is particularly concerned that this situation, along with non-adherence to the rule of law in the State party, has contributed to an increase in serious acts of sexual and gender based violence committed against women and girls by the police, military and the ruling party’s youth league, Imbonerakure (para 8).

The Committee calls upon the State party to effectively combat impunity and comply with its due diligence obligation to prevent, investigate, prosecute and punish violence perpetrated against women and girls by the police, military and Imbonerakure; Continue cooperating with the ICC Prosecutor regarding the ongoing preliminary examination and any eventual formal investigation or prosecution, to enable the Prosecutor to monitor and document as well as determine the full scale and scope of human rights violations perpetrated against the civilian population, including women and girls (para 9).

Trafficking and exploitation of prostitution: The Committee continues to be concerned about the lack of a coordinated and effective response by the State party to the increasing number of women and girls being trafficked out of the country for purposes of domestic servitude and sexual slavery. It regrets the absence of a disaggregated data collection system on both trafficking in women and girls and exploitation of prostitution, including on the number of victims, investigations, prosecutions, convictions and punishments (para 28).

The Committee draws attention to Sustainable Development Goal 5, target 5.2 to eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation, and recommends that the State party prevent, prosecute and adequately punish traffickers and perpetrators of related human rights violations and adopt gender-specific protection measures for women and girl victims (para 29).

Nationality: The Committee reiterates its concern (CEDAW/C/BDI/CO/4, para. 29) that article 4 of the Nationality Code does not comply with article 9 of the Convention because it does not allow a Burundian woman married to a foreigner to transmit her nationality to her husband or children on the same basis as a Burundian man married to a foreigner. The Committee further notes with concern the discriminatory provision of the Persons and Family Code (article 38) under which registration of a child's birth can only be effected by the father, and by mothers in very specific cases. It further notes the high rates of unregistered births.The Committee reiterates its recommendation (CEDAW/C/BDI/CO/4, para. 30) that the State party amend the Nationality Code and the Persons and Family Code so as to bring them in line with article 9 of the Convention, and ensure the registration of all births (para 32, 33).

Education: The Committee is concerned that the drop-out rate for girls at the secondary level is extremely high owing, inter alia, to early marriage and pregnancy, indirect school costs, malnutrition, child labour, preference to send boys to school, and the lack of enforcement of compulsory education. Access to education is extremely limited for girls who are internally displaced, refugees, Batwa, those with albinism and those with disabilities, particularly due to discrimination and inability to pay fees; The post-pregnancy re-integration policy requires girls to be absent from school for one year; and girls are often victims of sexual and gender based violence on the way to and from school as well as on school premises and that perpetrators of such acts regularly enjoy impunity due to the frequent lack of investigations into these allegations (para 34).

The Committee, recommends that the State party:  enforce compulsory education up to the ninth grade; Implement targeted measures to ensure access to education for Batwa girls, girls with disabilities and internally displaced girls; Raise public awareness about the importance of women’s and girls’ education and reinforce a zero-tolerance policy with respect to sexual abuse and harassment at school, ensuring that perpetrators are punished appropriately, corporal punishment is abolished in practice, and that victims are ensured access to health-care, psychological services and reparations (para 35).

Employment: The Committee is concerned about the lack of the protection of domestic workers from exploitation and sexual abuse and that child labour has not yet been banned and that girls continue to be exploited, particularly in domestic work. The Committee recommends that the State party sStrictly prohibit child labor and raise the minimum age of employment in line with ILO Convention No. 138 (1973); and Adequately resource the implementation of the National Action Plan to combat and eliminate the worst forms of child labour and conduct monitoring through inspections, particularly in rural areas and domestic households (paras 36, 37).

Health: The Committee welcomes the marked reduction in the rate of new HIV infections among children. It is concerned, however, about the unavailability, unaffordability and inaccessibility of modern contraceptives and sexual and reproductive health services in the State party, criminalization of abortion and that 45% of incarcerated women are serving sentences up to 20 years imprisonment on conviction for abortion and infanticide. The Committee, recalling its general recommendation No. 24 (1999) on women increase the budgetary allocation to basic health care and sexual and reproductive health services, affordable modern contraceptives and family planning services, giving priority to women in rural areas, young women and girls, women with disabilities and refugee and internally displaced women; Ensure the Strategic Plan to combat AIDS (2014-2017) includes a strategy to reduce the vulnerability of women and girls and to fight the stigma and discrimination against women and girls living with HIV/AIDS (paras 38, 39).

Refugee and internally displaced women: The Committee notes that the political instability and security situation in the State party since April 2015 has resulted in more than 50,000 persons being internally displaced and 320,000 persons seeking refuge outside the country, the majority of whom are women and children.The Committee recommends that the State party: Address the specific risks and particular needs of different groups of refugee and internally displaced women and girls who are subjected to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, such as rural women, elderly women, widows and women with disabilities; Adopt practical measures to prevent all forms of violence against women and girls, including sexual violence and exploitation, and ensure their protection (paras 44, 45).

Women in detention: The Committee is also concerned at the number of women detained with infants and young children as well as the lack of any social care and protection measures for the children of detained women who are separated from their mothers. The Committee recommends that the State party implement the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (‘the Bangkok Rules’) and guarantee separation of detained women and men, placing female guards in charge of the supervision of women detainees, and ensuring adequate health facilities and services, as well as appropriate treatment, in particular for pregnant women and women detained with their children (paras 48, 49).

Marriage and family relations: The Committee is concerned that its previous recommendations issued in 2001 (A/56/38, para. 56) and 2008 (CEDAW/C/BDI/CO/4, para. 12) to prioritize the revision of the Code of the Person and the Family, to grant the same rights for both spouses in matters of ownership, acquisition, management, enjoyment and disposition of property, and to end discrimination and standardize the age of marriage for everyone, have not been implemented. Furthermore, the Committee notes that pending the finalization of a draft law on inheritance, matrimonial regimes and gifts which exists since 2009, customary law continues to govern these matters, depriving women of their rights under articles 13, 14, 15, and 16 of the Convention. The Committee is further concerned about the absence of a statutory framework regulating de facto unions and ensuring economic equality of women and men, particularly upon their dissolution. The Committee, reminds the state of its general recommendations No. 21 (1994) on equality in marriage and family relations, No. 29 (2013) on the economic consequences of marriage, family relations and their dissolution, and joint general recommendation No. 31 of the Committee/general comment No. 18 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (2014) on harmful practices (para 51, 52).


Last reported: 16 January 2008
Concluding Observations published: 8 April 2008

Concerns raised:

Sexual violence: While noting the State party's efforts to combat violence against women, the Committee is deeply concerned about the high number of women and girls who are victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence, including incest. It is also concerned about the impunity which is too often enjoyed by the perpetrators of these acts and the extrajudicial or amicable settlement of cases, including by the administrative authorities, which favour practices such as marriage between the rapist and the victim. The Committee is concerned that women victims of violence, including those who were victims of the armed conflict, do not have sufficient support. The Committee is also alarmed at the persistence of negative traditional practices with regard to widows. Further, it is seriously concerned about the scale of the phenomenon of domestic violence and the fact that it is not prohibited in the Penal Code or in a separate legislation. 

The Committee urges the State party to adopt a comprehensive strategy to combat all forms of violence against women. It encourages the State party to make use of the Committee's general recommendation 19 in its efforts to combat violence against women and also of the Secretary-General's in-depth study on all forms of violence against women (A/61/122/Add.1 and Corr.1), in particular the good practices identified in the study. It also encourages the State party to consider the campaign for the elimination of violence against women launched by the Secretary-General. The Committee invites the State party to raise public awareness, through the media and education programmes, that all forms of violence against women are unacceptable.

It calls on the State party to train the judiciary, law enforcement officials, legal professionals, social workers and health providers so as to ensure that the perpetrators of violence against women are prosecuted and punished, and to provide victims with gender-sensitive support. It calls on the State party to enhance access to justice for victims, including victims of armed conflict, and to take steps to provide them with legal, medical and psychological support. It urges the State party to enact legislation on domestic violence and all forms of gender-based violence. The Committee calls on the State party to ensure the protection of widows from negative traditional practices. It requests the State party to provide information in its next report on the laws, policies and programmes in place to eradicate all forms of violence against women, as well as statistical data and trends concerning the prevalence of such violence. (paragraphs 23-24)

Trafficking: The Committee is concerned about the absence of measures to combat trafficking of women and girls given Burundi's status as a country of origin, transit and destination. It regretted the lack of statistical data on the issue. It recommends that Burundi analyse the causes and incidence of trafficking, strengthen measures to combat and prevent trafficking and improve the economic situation of women. The Committee asks for detailed information on the phenomenon in the next report. It also urgeed Burundi to amend the Penal Code to ensure that prostitutes under the age of 18 are not prosecuted and enjoy protection. (paragraphs 27- 28)

Right to a nationality: The Nationality Code does not allow a Burundian woman married to a foreigner to pass on her nationality to her children. The Committee recommends Burundi bring this Code in line with CEDAW. (paragraphs 29, 30)

Education: The Committee welcomes the introduction of free primary education in 2005 but remained concerned about the disparity between boys and girls in education. Low rates of enrolment of girls may be due to stereotypes.The Committee recommends that Burundi take measures to eliminate traditional attitudes that foster the problem, to ensure equal access for girls to all levels of education and to take measures to prevent girls from dropping out of school. It also called on the State party to improve the literacy level of girls through formal and non-formal education. It encourageed cooperation with civil society and the international community on this issue. (paragraphs 21-22)

HIV and AIDS: The Committee congratulated Burundi for establishing a ministry dedicated to AIDS control, but was alarmed that the infection rate is increasing among women. It recommends the promotion of sex education focusing on sexually transmitted diseases. (paragraphs 37, 38)


UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination


UN Committee on Migrant Workers


UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


UN Committee on Enforced Disappearance


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