Torture in  [Burundi]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Burundi]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Burundi]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Burundi]  [other countries]

Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century                                                                

Republic of Burundi

Burundi is a landlocked, resource-poor country with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector. The economy is predominantly agricultural with more than 90% of the population dependent on subsistence agriculture.

An ethnic-based war that lasted for over a decade resulted in more than 200,000 deaths, forced more than 48,000 refugees into Tanzania, and displaced 140,000 others internally. Only one in two children go to school, and approximately one in 15 adults has HIV/AIDS. Food, medicine, and electricity remain in short supply.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: Burundi

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Burundi.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.

*** ARCHIVES ***

Burundi lawyers face disbarment over remarks to U.N. torture watchdog - rights experts

Reuters, 8 August 2016

[accessed 8 August 2016]

Four Burundian lawyers who gave information to the United Nations about alleged torture in their central African country face disbarment as retribution for their testimony, U.N. human rights experts said on Monday.

The committee of 10 independent experts examined Burundi's record, voicing concern at allegations of killings and torture of opposition figures by the ruling CNDD-FDD party's youth wing Imbonerakure.

"On 29 July, a Burundian prosecutor asked the president of the Bujumbura Bar Council to strike the lawyers off, alleging that they had committed several offences, including involvement in an insurrectionist movement and an attempted coup," it said.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or download PDF at

[accessed 18 March 2015]


IMPUNITY - Most of the perpetrators of scores of extrajudicial killings and other acts of political violence between 2010 and 2012 continue to evade justice. An appeal hearing in the case of Deputy Police Commissioner Michel Nurweze, alias Rwembe (“razor blade” in Kirundi), was held on November 6 after being repeatedly delayed for more than a year. In a rare prosecution of an official for human rights abuses, a court in Gitega had tried Nurweze in 2013 on charges of murder, torture, and attempted murder. However, after at least two prosecution witnesses refused to testify due to a lack of adequate protection, he was acquitted for murder and torture but found guilty of grievous bodily harm and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment. He was released as he had already served a year in prison.

Three police officers accused of involvement in the killing of nine religious worshippers at Businde in March 2013 had not been tried at time of writing. They were arrested in 2013 and provisionally released after three months. There were further arrests of worshippers from the same informal spiritual movement who make monthly pilgrimages to Businde.

UN Committee against Torture’s Concluding Observations on Sweden, Ukraine, Venezuela, Australia, Burundi, USA, Croatia and Kazakhstan

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights OHCHR, Geneva, 24 November 2014

[accessed 7 December 2014]

The UN Committee against Torture will be holding a news conference to discuss the concluding observations of its 53rd session ... Among the issues discussed during the session:

BURUNDI: Allegations of torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials and prison officers; sub-standard conditions of detention; no independent body to monitor places of detention; high numbers in custody and pre-trial detention; political violence; the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The state of the world's human rights

Amnesty International AI, Annual Report 2012

[accessed xx Jan 2014]

TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT - A commission of inquiry into allegations of torture in 2010 by the National Intelligence Service (SNR) failed to report publicly. No judicial investigations or prosecutions were initiated into the allegations.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/BDI/CO/1 (2007)

[accessed 24 February 2013]

8. While it welcomes with satisfaction the planned revision of the Criminal Code, which should contain a definition of torture, as announced by the delegation of the State party, the Committee is concerned at the lack of provisions in the Criminal Code in force containing an explicit definition of torture and criminalizing torture, in accordance with articles 1 and 4 of the Convention.  The Committee is also concerned at the lack of clarity with regard to the status of the Convention in Burundi’s domestic law, and the fact that the Convention is not invoked before the competent judicial and administrative authorities (arts. 1 and 4).

The State party should take urgent measures to include in its Criminal Code a definition of torture that is in conformity with article 1 of the Convention, as well as provisions criminalizing acts of torture and imposing criminal penalties proportionate to the gravity of the acts committed.  The State party should also clarify the status of the Convention in its domestic law in order to enable all persons who claim to have been subjected to torture to invoke the Convention before the competent judicial and administrative authorities.

9. While it welcomes the planned reform of Burundi’s judicial system, which was announced by the delegation of the State party, the Committee notes with concern that the current provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure relating to police custody do not explicitly refer to the notification of rights, including the presence of a lawyer from the first hours in police custody and the medical examination of persons held in police custody.  The Committee is also concerned at the lack of provisions on legal aid for disadvantaged persons.  Moreover, the Committee is concerned at the length of police custody, which can last as long as 14 days, a period that is not in keeping with the generally accepted international norms on the subject.

Finally, the Committee is deeply concerned at reports that there have been several hundred cases of illegal detention owing to the fact that persons were held in police custody longer than the period authorized by law (arts. 2 and 11).

The State party should amend the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure relating to police custody in order to ensure the effective prevention of violations of the physical and mental integrity of persons held in police custody, including by guaranteeing their right to habeas corpus, the right to inform a close relation and the right to consult a lawyer and physician of their choice or an independent physician during the first hours in police custody, as well as access to legal aid for the most disadvantaged persons.

The State party should, in addition, bring the practice of pretrial detention into conformity with the international standards relating to a fair trial and should ensure that the trial takes place within a reasonable time.

10. The Committee is alarmed at reports that torture is a widespread practice in the State party.  According to these reports, which were not challenged by the delegation of the State party, several hundred cases of torture were registered between July 2005 and July 2006.  Moreover, the Committee is deeply concerned at reports received concerning a high number of forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detentions, the main perpetrators of which are allegedly officials of the National Intelligence Service.  In this regard, the Committee is concerned at the dual mandate of the National Intelligence Service, which is responsible for State security and is also active in criminal investigation, since this entails the risk that the Service might be used as a means of political repression (art. 2)

Human Rights Recommendations for Geneva Conference

Human Rights Watch, October 26, 2012

[accessed 21 January 2013]

Under the heading “Promoting human rights”, the PRSP states that “human rights violations such as torture, assassinations and rape must stop immediately”. It also highlights the need to strengthen security and pursue reforms to train and professionalize the army and make the police force an instrument of protection for both people and property.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 21 January 2013]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – Although the constitution prohibits such practices, members of the security forces continued to torture and otherwise abuse persons, which reportedly resulted in several deaths.

Throughout the year multiple credible sources reported that the security forces maintained illegal detention and torture centers across the country.

League Iteka, the UN, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and the Burundian Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH) reported that members of the security forces beat and tortured civilians and detainees throughout the year.

Multiple credible sources reported that agents of Documentation National (DN), the civilian intelligence service, arbitrarily detained and tortured people thought to be members and supporters of the PALIPEHUTU-FNL. According to these sources, DN agents tortured these individuals by beating them with batons, breaking their feet, tying them or chaining them, using clamps on their genitals, using needles on their feet, rubbing chili oil and salt into wounds, placing them in isolation chambers without food for prolonged periods of time, and repeatedly threatening to execute them. These sources also reported that DN Chief Major General Adolphe Nshimirimana was sometimes present while detainees were tortured.

There were frequent reports by League Iteka and APRODH that prison authorities tortured detainees and prisoners using methods similar to those described above.

On January 17, in the Rubira commune of Bujumbura Rural Province, members of the FDN detained and beat a man who refused to give them his bicycle.

After a March 21 visit to a detention facility in Bujumbura, League Iteka reported that four detainees showed signs of having been beaten with batons and clubs.

On April 7, in the Nyarabira commune of Bujumbura Rural Province, members of the FDN detained five brick masons after they passed nearby a military position. FDN members reportedly beat them during their detention before eventually releasing them.

There were no developments in the February 2004 torture of civilians by CNDD-FDD members, the April 2004 robbery and beating of a judge by soldiers, the April 2004 torture of civilians in the Mutimbuzi commune of Bujumbura Rural Province by CNDD-FDD members, or the September 2004 beating of five students by CNDD-FDD members in the Mutimbuzi commune of Bujumbura Rural Province.

Although precise figures remained unavailable, there were numerous reports that members of the security forces raped women and young girls with impunity (see section 1.g.). For example members of the FDN reportedly committed at least 21 rapes in February in Kayanza, Muramvya, and Cibitoke provinces; 11 of these cases involved minors.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 4   Civil Liberties: 5   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 21 January 2013]

The judicial system is seriously burdened by a lack of resources and training, and by corruption. Given Burundi’s recent history, there are far more pending cases than can easily be handled by the current judiciary, and many of them are politically sensitive. The government has yet to establish a special tribunal called for by the United Nations. Many crimes go unreported. According to Amnesty International, conditions in prisons continue to be “subhuman” and at times life-threatening. Despite extensive negotiations and discussions regarding the establishment of some form of broad-based truth commission to address past human rights violations, no such body has yet been created despite the naming of its head. Several national and international human rights organizations have previously criticized the practices of the security services in Burundi and have reported that individuals opposed to the CNDD are particularly at risk of torture or worse.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, " Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Burundi",, [accessed <date>]



Torture in  [Burundi]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Burundi]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Burundi]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Burundi]  [other countries]