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The Republic of Burundi


Burundi has a heavy history of gross human rights violations that have not been addressed for decades. Also, according to a report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Burundi and the decision of Pre-Trial Chamber III of the ICC, crimes against humanity have allegedly been committed since April 2015 in Burundi. Other major challenges that the country is facing include widespread corruption and human trafficking. Burundi has been the first country to officially and successfully withdraw from the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court.


Treaty ratification Process

The Constitution (arts.276-283) of Burundi provides that the President of the Republic signs and ratifies treaties. However, certain categories of treaties may be ratified only by a law, including treaties of peace and commerce, treaties relating to international organizations, treaties that engage the finances of the State, treaties that modify provisions of a legislative nature and treaties relating to the status of persons. The President of the Republic, the President of the National Assembly, the President of the Senate, or a quarter of the members of the National Assembly or the Senate may ask the Constitutional Court to review the constitutionality of a treaty, and if the Court finds a provision in the treaty unconstitutional, the treaty may be ratified only after amendment or revision of the Constitution. Regarding the domestication of international law, Burundi is a monist state. In fact, the Constitution does not contain any conditions for treaties to take effect other than to be regularly ratified and to meet conditions for entry into force set out by them and to be applied by the other party when they are bilateral. Agreements authorizing the storage of toxic waste and other materials that may seriously damage the environment are prohibited.


State of legislation on International and transnational crimes

Burundi has comprehensive legislation on international and transnational crimes that would allow an easy complementarity with the African Court. The penal code of 2017 criminalizes genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes (arts. 244-256). The penal code provisions are word-for-word identical to the corresponding Malabo Protocol provisions. It also criminalizes most of the transnational crimes lay down in the Malabo Protocol including human trafficking(arts.244-256), corruption (arts.436-446), money laundry as an incidental infraction to corruption (art.457), some forms of drug trafficking (arts.505-513), mercenarism, (arts. 604-606) and terrorism (arts.637-642). In addition to the general provisions of the penal code, some crimes are also criminalized in specific laws. These laws include the law on the prevention and the punishment of trafficking in person and the protection of victims, the law on the prevention and the punishment of the corruption and other incidental crimes, the law on fighting against money laundry and terrorism financing. In most cases, the definitions of the crimes are in Burundian legislation are close to those laid down in Malabo Protocol.


Human Rights treaty signing and ratification trends

Burundi has ratified many of the AU human rights instruments, including almost all the crime-based treaties. It has not ratified at least two major AU human rights instruments, namely the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. For AU treaties, between signature and ratification, Burundi takes an average time of 33 months. Regarding UN treaties, Burundi is a party to seven of the nine main human rights treaties and four of nine optional protocols. On average, Burundi takes 49 months between signature and ratification.


AU Judicial bodies membership

Treaty Signature Ratification
Protocol to the African Charter on Human And Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights Yes Yes
Protocol of the Court of Justice of the African Union Yes No
  Protocol on The Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights (Merger Protocol) No No
Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights No No