2. Long period before implementation
The establishment of transitional justice mechanisms has been provided by the Arusha Agreement. After several discussions between partners, it was agreed to set up a dual mechanism: first a non-judicial mechanism, namely the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and then a judicial mechanism, namely the Special Tribunal for Burundi.
Currently, the bill establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was analyzed by the Government, is now on the table of the National Assembly for adoption. This year 2013, this establishment may be effective.
So in Burundi, unlike other situations or cases, transitional justice mechanisms will be put in place after a long period of maturation, the final stages of a peace process and reconciliation that began after the Arusha Peace Agreement was signed in 2000.
This process was marked by very significant progress and quite original in terms of our national reconciliation, so that for Burundi, the link between transitional justice, security and development seems to be obvious.
3. Ethnic quota policy : A Solution to discrimination
The Arusha Agreement defined the conflict in Burundi as a political conflict, with extremely important ethnic dimensions. This conflict has been characterized by massive violations of human rights, including the right to life. The phenomenon of ethnic exclusion was obvious. Some institutions, such as defense and security, the judiciary, administration, diplomacy etc.. were ethnic strongholds. Thus, the Arusha Agreement set ethnic quotas between the Hutu and Tutsi in some sensitive sectors. The quota policy has solved the problems of ethnic exclusion, and built on an inclusive democracy. This example is unique of the kind, and it gives us results which we are proud of.
4. Reform of the Army and Police : a miracle in Burundi
– At the level of our defense and security, there has been a reform to have a new army and a new national police integrating the various fighting forces of the former government army and several rebellions. 50-50% for Hutu and Tutsi in the army, and 60% for Hutu / 40% for Tutsi at the national police. It was a great success. Some People say that a miracle happened, because at first glance, nobody could believe it. Thanks to that integration, security is guaranteed for all, and this is very important.
Today, our defense and security forces even enjoy an international reputation. They are requested at peacekeeping operations in several countries such as Sudan, Somalia, Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti, Syria. Our participation in AMISOM force peacekeeping is particularly appreciated. Without the presence of the Burundian contingent, Somalia would not be what it is today. We look forward to sending our troups in Mali.
We have reformed our Ministry of Defense which now becomes “ Ministère de la Défense et des Anciens Combattants”, which means that this Ministry, in addition to its formal mandate, is also managing projects to support demobilized persons for a social and economic reintegration.
5. Burundian democracy model
– In Burundi, we have adopted a new constitution according to our realities. At the Cabinet level, the President of the Republic is assisted by two vice-presidents from different ethnic groups, with 60% Hutu, 40% Tutsi and at least 30% women. The configuration of the National Assembly is made in accordance with the same scheme. The Senate is composed of equal numbers of Hutu and Tutsi, 50-50%, and one of their role is to ensure respect for ethnic and gender balances in our various institutions.
We have already held two rounds of multiparty elections in 2005 and 2010, held in full transparency.
Today, the Burundian society made remarkable progress as regard to democracy, with a vibrant civil society and freedom of expression underpinned by the existence of several private media.
6. Refugees and internal desplaced persons integration
Finally, we can mention that with the establishment of democracy and social harmony restored, all refugees have already returned home. The last camp for Burundian refugees in Tanzania closed its doors on 31 December last year. Their socio-professional reintegration has not been a major problem. Issues related to the recovery of their property and other assets are often settled amicably by the “National Commission for Land and Other Assets”. The internally displaced persons have returned to their properties, or they have found amicable settlements through and with thanks to the mediation of the same Committee.
7. The main challenge : Poverty eradication
All those different reforms for national reconciliation have to take into account Burundi poverty situation. For example, to increase the most vulnerable population’s access to basic social services, it has been declared that free health care for children under 5 and pregnant women until delivery as well as free fees at primary school, is provided.
To accelerate the construction of basic socio-economic infrastructures, the authorities adopted the formula of ” community development work “ which bring together different groups of people and also contributes to social harmony.
In order to coordinate and promote efforts for development and fight poverty, the Government in association with its development partners has elaborated what we call “Cadre stratégique de Croissance de Lutte contre la Pauvreté,” which is a strategic framework to fight poverty. The first conference to mobilise funding was held in 2007 in Bujumbura; the second and recent Conference was held in Geneva in October 2012. Those programs give priority to(1) good governance, rule of law, human rights, justice; (2) agriculture, energy, mining, infrastructures, (3) Access to basic social services like education and health, (4) environmental issues and fight against AIDS
With regard to human rights, Burundi will have favored a comprehensive approach that takes into account the civil and political rights but also economic, social and cultural rights. An Independent National Human Right Commission has been established by consensus to facilitate the promotion of human rights.
We strongly believe that policy of economic growth and poverty eradication is useful to national reconciliation.
The purpose of transitional justice is to restore democracy, guaranteeing human rights, especially the rights of victims to truth, reparation and rehabilitation, reconciliation and development. It should help in the fight against impunity, and make appropriate administrative and institutional reforms to ensure the non-recurrence.
Even if the purpose of Transitional Justice is the same everywhere, we realized in Burundi, that there is no unique model of the kind “Prêt-à-porter.” Each situation is specific. And the case of Burundi is particularly specific. After long and matured thinking, and several consultations at all levels, we opted for a transitional justice mechanism split, to avoid backtracking. First, a non-judicial mechanism: the truth and reconciliation commission. And later a judicial mechanism: the Special Tribunal for Burundi
Thank you for your attention.
Last Updated (Monday, 21 January 2013)