Freedom in the World

Freedom in the World 2017

Burundi

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Freedom Status: 
Not Free
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(0=Least Free, 100=Most Free)
(1=Most Free, 7=Least Free)

Quick Facts

Population: 
11,100,000
Capital: 
Bujumbura
GDP/capita: 
$277
Press Freedom Status: 
Not Free
Overview: 

Democratic gains made after the 12-year civil war ended in 2005 are rapidly being undone by a shift toward authoritarian politics and ongoing repression of and violence against the opposition and those perceived to support it.

Key Developments in 2016: 
  • Repression and persecution of those suspected of opposing President Pierre Nkurunziza continued.
  • At the end of the year, over 300,000 people had fled Burundi as refugees due to the ongoing crisis.
  • In March, the European Union (EU) suspended direct aid to Burundi over the government’s refusal to engage in peace talks.
  • In October, the government announced that it would withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), six months after the ICC prosecutor’s office had initiated a preliminary examination of the crisis.
Executive Summary: 

Burundi’s political crisis began in April 2015, when President Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a constitutionally dubious third term, which he won in disputed elections held later that year. Nkurunziza’s move sparked violence including assassinations, arrests, torture of government critics, and escalating attacks by antigovernment forces in 2015. The violence continued in 2016, though at a lower rate. Many opposition figures and journalists who fled the country in 2015 continued to operate in exile. At the end of 2016, over 300,000 people had fled Burundi as refugees due to the crisis.

The government has shown little interest in mediators’ attempts to help negotiate a resolution to the crisis, and in March 2016, the EU suspended direct aid to Burundi over the government’s refusal to engage in peace talks. The government’s hard-line stance, combined with its stated intention to withdraw from the ICC, reflect a worrying disengagement from the international community.

Meanwhile, Nkurunziza’s ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD–FDD) maintained near-total control of the executive, judiciary, and legislative branches, as well as the security forces.

Aggregate Score: 
19
Freedom Rating: 
6.5
Political Rights: 
7
Civil Liberties: 
6

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Burundi

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