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Analysis and adoption of the draft law on the regulation of migration in Burundi

publie le Monday 6 December 2021
parCommunication and Spokesperson’s Office

Burundi has never been involved in human trafficking, said the Minister of Home Affairs, Community Development and Public Security, on the sidelines of the analysis of the bill on the regulation of migration in Burundi, which was finally adopted unanimously by MPs present in the plenary session of Monday, September 13, 2021. That slander was the result of fictitious associations that were attracted by their own profit by claiming to hire people in the Gulf States.
Those speculators deceived the vigilance of public opinion to such an extent that the United States of America had refused entry to any Burundian holding a service passport. Things were put back in order when Burundi recommended to the countries of the sub-region to prohibit any Burundian from flying from their territory to Arab countries. This measure bore fruit, as people who were going to be enslaved in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman were apprehended in Nairobi, Kenya and at Entebbe, Uganda. They were returned to their families in Burundi.
The outdated nature of the decree, which is not adapted to this sensitive aspect, motivated this regulation.

Indeed, in his explanatory statement, the Chief Police Commissioner (CPC) Gervais Ndirakobuca, said that the legislation on migration dated from the promulgation of decree No. 1/007 of 20 March 1989 regulating access, stay, settlement of foreigners on the territory of Burundi and their removal.
Thirty years later, the Government envoy continued, the decree-law needs to be adapted because since that period, several social phenomena and various regulations in that area appeared in Burundi and elsewhere, including the ratification of the Treaty of Accession of Burundi to the East African Community (EAC). Moreover, he added, as globalisation spread to all countries, the nature of cross-border movements of people and goods changed dramatically, travel documents were digitised, transnational crime, including terrorism and cybercrime, took worrying turns.
In 2008, he said, the regulation on migration with regard to refugees was slightly modified and completed twice by law n° 1/03 of 04 February 2008 on asylum and protection of refugees in Burundi and the second by law n°1/32 of 13 November 2008 on the same context.
The law n°1/32 of 13 November 2008 only revised articles 20 to 25 of decree-law n°1/007 of 20 March 1989 which relate to refugees and asylum seekers, separating refugees from foreigners. The two texts therefore all remain in force, even though they legislate on the same area, "foreigners, refugees and stateless persons". It is worth bearing in mind that they are all silent on the issue of emigration.
Following the need to adapt the decree-law n°1/007 of 20 March 1989 to the current situation and to revise the law n°1/32 of 13 November 2008 on asylum and the protection of refugees and stateless persons in Burundi, it is appropriate to institute a single and harmonised management of foreigners, including refugees and stateless persons. As a refugee is by nature a foreigner, it would be rational for all actors involved to be governed by the same regulations and harmoniously coordinated structures in order to avoid dysfunctions, overlapping or even competing interference in one or other file relating to the management of a foreigner or stateless person.
Whether we like it or not, the situation of stateless persons will remain. In Burundi that status is still attached to Omanis who have settled in the country as traders up to the 5th generation. When Oman called on its nationals to register on its territory, those in Burundi did not respond to the invitation. Burundi extended its arms to them to grant them nationality, which they refused. This explains their eternal state of statelessness.

Moreover, the relations between refugees living in the camps and administrative authorities of the locality where the camps are located are not always good. Access to the camp is sometimes denied even to administrative officials. It is rather up to the refugees to subscribe to the local authorities. To this end, Article 89, which is an innovation, finds its raison d’être. The project of online visa granting was sufficiently advanced but was slowed down by the 2015 insurrections. Minister Gervais Ndirakobuca promised to work on the issue with a view to relaunching it.

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