Truth or Reconciliation Mechanism: Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi

Protocol I, Chapter II:

Article 8: Principles and measures relating to national reconciliation

1. A national commission known as the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission shall be established. This Commission shall have the following functions:

(a) Investigation

The Commission shall bring to light and establish the truth regarding the serious acts of violence committed during the cyclical conflicts which cast a tragic shadow over Burundi from independence (1 July 1962) to the date of signature of the Agreement, classify the crimes and establish the responsibilities, as well as the identity of the perpetrators and the victims. However, the Commission shall not be competent to classify acts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes;

(b) Arbitration and reconciliation

The Burundian crisis is a profound one: the task of reconciliation will be long and exacting. There are still gaping wounds which will need to be healed.
To this end the Commission shall, upon completion of its investigations, propose to the competent institutions or adopt measures likely to promote reconciliation and forgiveness, order indemnification or restoration of disputed property, or propose any political, social or other measures it deems appropriate.
In this context, the transitional National Assembly may pass a law or laws providing a framework for granting an amnesty consistent with international law for such political crimes as it or the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission may find appropriate;

(c) Clarification of history

The Commission shall also be responsible for clarifying the entire history of Burundi, going as far back as possible in order to inform Burundians about their past. The purpose of this clarification exercise shall be to rewrite Burundi's history so that all Burundians can interpret it in the same way.

2. Membership of the commission

(a) Source

Candidates for membership of the Commission shall be put forward by civil society associations, political parties, religious denominations or women's organizations, or may stand as individual candidates.

(b) Appointing body

Members of the Commission shall be appointed by the transitional Government in consultation with the Bureau of the transitional National Assembly.

(c) Profile and selection of candidates

Members of the Commission must show probity, integrity and ability to rise above divisions of all kinds. In the selection of candidates, balance must be taken into account, and the following criteria shall apply:

i. Age of members: at least 35 years;

ii. Level of education: at least a full secondary education certificate or equivalent.

3. Functioning of the Commission

The Commission must have the leeway to work independently, inter alia through autonomy in managing the material and financial resources to be allocated to it.

The Commission shall, whenever necessary, propose additional reconciliation mechanisms, and shall be free to set up sub-commissions as appropriate.

The public authorities shall have the obligation to do their utmost to enable the Commission to accomplish its mission without hindrance, by providing it with sufficient material, technical and financial resources.

4. Duration

The Commission shall conduct its work over a two-year period. At the end of two years, the appropriate transitional institutions shall assess the work done, and may decide on an extension for one year.

Implementation History

2003

No Implementation

No developments observed this year. 

2004

No Implementation

No developments observed this year. 

2005

No Implementation

No developments observed this year. 

2006

No Implementation

In March of 2006, the UN sent a delegation to the Burundian government urging for the establishment of the Truth Commission and an international inquiry on genocide. The government submitted a memorandum to the UN by detailing its proposals and recommendations.2

  • 2. "Burundi; UN Team Arrives for Talks On Truth And Reconciliation Commission," Africa News, March 27, 2006.
2007

Minimum Implementation

In 2007, the President of Burundi created a commission to begin conducting popular consultations concerning the setting up of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Special International Tribunal.3

  • 3. "Burundi; President Nkurunziza Launches the Activities for TRC," Africa News,  November 4, 2007.
2008

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year. 

2009

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year. 

2010

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year. 

2011

Minimum Implementation

In June, the government of Burundi established a Technical Committee to make recommendations on establishing the TRC.4

  • 4. "Burundi / Submission to the Technical Committee revising the law for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission," African Press Organization, September 8, 2011.
2012

Minimum Implementation

The TRC was not established by the end of 2012. 

Postscript: A draft on the establishment of a TRC was made public in December of 2012 and was circulated in 2013.5

  • 5. "Human Rights; An Overview of Burundi's Human Rights Violations," Africa News, December 30, 2012.