The Burundian National Police

The Police was formerly established on 31 December 2004 and it operates under the Ministry of Public Security, which was formerly an arm of the Ministry of the Interior. It incorporates staff from the former Public Security Police (PSP), the Judicial Police, the former government army and gendarmerie, and former armed opposition movements. The Judicial Police officers and security police officers share responsibility for the prevention and punishment of ordinary crime and are in direct contact with the population. The Judicial Police investigate crimes, question suspects, and provide evidence to the prosecutor (Ministère Public).The Security Police guard public places, apprehend perpetrators, and execute search and arrest warrants issued by the prosecutor. It is widely recognized, that the size of the police force far exceeds national needs. Security police, are not authorized to conduct interrogations or to detain suspects. It is important to note that the fact that merging together different sectors has proved to be a challenge as some of the staff lack any formal police or military training.

Oversight Mechanisms

The Inspectorate General of Public Security (IGPS) formed in 2009 is the body tasked with independent oversight, control and investigation of all the activities conducted under the auspices of the Ministry of Public Security as well as the documentation of complaints against the police and denunciations of individual officers from both citizens and police officers themselves. However the IGPS remains somewhat ineffective in fulfilling its mandate, due to a paucity of human and financial resources. The IGPS’ scope and freedom to investigate is significantly reduced as it now falls under the Ministry of Public Security instead of being independent.

Burundi’s constitution also provides for the creation of an Ombudsman’s office mandated to receive complaints and initiate investigations concerning mismanagement and human rights violations committed by public servants. The first ombudsman was appointed in 2011. The constitution also grants Burundi’s parliament oversight authority over the country’s defence forces and security institutions. The Defence and Security Commission is meant to execute this role, but in practice it takes no concrete action. Courts and civil society also play a key role in monitoring the conduct of police.

  1. Human Rights Watch Report, Every Morning They Beat Me, 2008, Chapter IV. Available at https://www.hrw.org/reports/2008/burundi0408. <Accessed on 31 March 2016>.
  2. Security Sector Reform Monitor, Burundi. 2010. Available at: https://www.cigionline.org/sites/default/files/SSRM%20Burundi%20v3.pdf. <Accessed on 30 March 2016>.
Country Category Year Title URL
Burundi General 2015/2016 Amnesty International Country Report for Burundi Source
Burundi News Story 2016 UN Security Council approves Burundi Police Force Source
Burundi Communication to the UN Security Council 2016 Joint Statement on the UN Security Council’s Visit to Burundi Source
Burundi General 2014 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014 Source