Country Report on Terrorism 2015 - Chapter 2 - Burundi

Overview: Burundi continued to deploy six battalions to the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Of serious concern, Burundian security forces, in particular the Burundian National Police, were increasingly credibly implicated in widespread human rights abuses in 2015 as a result of the Government of Burundi’s determination to crack down on political opponents.

Burundi demonstrated its continued commitment to addressing international terrorism in 2015 primarily through its six battalion contribution to the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). However, the Burundian National Police (BNP) was hampered by a lack of training, resources, and infrastructure. In addition, the BNP focused its investigative efforts on political opposition in Burundi.

Burundi’s porous land and water borders posed significant border security challenges.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Burundi has provisions in its penal code defining forms of terrorism. Sentences for acts of terrorism range from 10 to 20 years in prison to life imprisonment if the act results in the death of a person. The Judicial Police was responsible for terrorism investigations. A counterterrorism unit, formed in 2010, consists of elements of the BNP, the military, and the Burundi National Intelligence Service.

Burundi’s participation in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program and the International Law Enforcement Academy was suspended in mid-2015 due to the lack of accountability for human rights abuses perpetrated in Cibitoke Province in January.

Burundi used laws related to threats to internal and external state security to suppress dissent during the electoral cycle. Several journalists, human rights defenders, and opposition politicians – including Bob Rugurika of African Public Radio and Pierre Claver Mbonimpa of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Prisoners – denounced government activities and consequently faced jail time and repeated court hearings, and were forced to flee the country due to credible threats to themselves and their families, or were severely injured or killed.

Burundi’s judicial system was characterized by corruption, incompetence, and an overwhelming backlog of cases.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Burundi is not a member of a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body; however, it is an observer of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group. While the government has created counterterrorist financing laws, it has yet to commit funding, provide training, or implement policies. Burundi has laws that criminalize terrorist financing, but it does not implement these laws consistently. No terrorist assets were frozen in 2015.

Burundi’s anti-money laundering/counterterrorism finance regime is incomplete. It does not include regulatory requirements or supervision of money/value transfer services, precious metal and jewelry dealers, real estate agents, exchange houses, non-profit organizations, the informal financial sector, and money service businesses, but Know Your Customer practices are implemented regularly in the formal financial sector. In addition, very few people in the country have access to the formal banking sector. Each local commercial bank operation is recorded within the bank’s system and the banks exchange information with their foreign correspondent banks through their compliance officers. Banks are not asked to share this information with the Government of Burundi’s financial intelligence unit, however.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2016 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Countering Violent Extremism: The Burundian government does not have any formal programs to counter violent extremism. Due to concerns about abuses allegedly perpetrated by Burundian security forces, several of Burundi’s partners, including international organizations, reduced funding for vocational training and economic development programs designed to provide positive alternatives for populations vulnerable to radicalization and recruitment into terrorist organizations.

International and Regional Cooperation: Burundi is a member of the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism, although the United States did not provide assistance in 2015 because of its failure to hold police and military personnel accountable for human rights abuses. Burundi contributed six battalions to AMISOM.