Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report

Introduction

The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Burundi to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Burundi's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at www.state.gov.

Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The U.S. Government encourages fair and equitable treatment for all citizens of Burundi without regard to race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, political affiliation, marital status, or sexual orientation. Through partnership with the local government, parliament, civil society, other donors, and regional organizations, the United States works to combat corruption, abusive government, and human rights violations and to encourage the development of an independent judiciary, strong legislative bodies, robust civil society, and strong and independent electoral institutions. The United States also supports Burundi's participation in the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) and other such African regional organizations that serve as vehicles to build capacity and to strengthen commitment to human rights and democratization. The United States encourages increased transparency, participation in government processes by civil society, and civic education for political leaders and the general public. Fostering a climate where respect for human rights and due process can flourish is an integral and pervasive part of the U.S. Government's goals.

In preparation for the country's 2010 elections, the United States seeks to foster an election environment in which multiple parties participate in a free, fair, transparent, and peaceful electoral process, with an outcome that is credible to citizens of the country and the international community. Free and fair elections leading to an orderly succession are a critical element in helping ensure that the country does not return to violence.

Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

The United States continues to maintain its support for good governance and democracy by working to strengthen the government's executive, legislative, and judicial branches as well as civil society. The United States supports ongoing land reform programs, women's inheritance rights, and advocacy for the adoption of a new land code, an important step in addressing land tenure issues and reducing escalating land-related conflicts, particularly those involving returned refugees. The U.S. Government continues to fund a local NGO that educates and advocates for the rights of people with HIV/AIDs, combating stigmatization and social and economic exclusion. The United States continues to fund programs that focus on economic and social empowerment of women and youth in refugee returnee communities in order to assist returnees in becoming fully integrated and active participants in a democratic society.

The United States supports workshops that strengthen corruption monitoring by civil society and government officials. The U.S. Government continues to help reinforce awareness of and support for transparency following high-profile government corruption scandals. The United States continues active engagement with the government in reintegrating former child soldiers into society, particularly in addressing their psychological needs as well as supporting programs to assist in identifying and preventing trafficking activities among demobilized child soldiers. In addition, the U.S. Government maintains programs to help professionalize the army and the police. These efforts include human rights trainings for the military and funding to build police command posts and armories, thereby reducing the number of arms circulating in the population.

The United States supports programs to assist in the combating of human trafficking. This includes the provision of technical assistance in the drafting of comprehensive antitrafficking national legislation, as well as providing training to justice and civil society officials on investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenses and the procedures for identifying victims.

The United States supports efforts to promote a successful 2010 election and peaceful post-election process in the country. For example, the U.S. Government funds a U.S. NGO's dynamic country-wide civic education program to ensure that citizens — including youth, women, and rural inhabitants — are aware of their election rights and responsibilities, are able to register, and are knowledgeable about how and where to cast their secret ballots. The United States continues to support development of a free, objective, and independent media that provides legitimate and fair discussion of ideas and candidates. In 2009, the U.S. Government advocated for a balanced revision of the Electoral Code governing the 2010 elections and funded a roundtable of civil society and political party leaders who developed the first draft.


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