The Republic of Burundi is a constitutional, multiparty republic with an elected government. The 2005 constitution provides for an executive branch that reports to the president, a bicameral parliament, and an independent judiciary. In 2010 voters reelected President Pierre Nkurunziza and chose a new National Assembly (lower house) in elections that a coalition of 12 opposition parties boycotted. International observers characterized the elections as largely peaceful, generally free and fair, and generally well managed, although they noted the absence of pluralistic competition, some unfair use by the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) of government facilities and financial resources during the campaigns, and restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly. The armed forces and other security forces reported to civilian authorities. While observers considered the military generally professional and apolitical, the intelligence service and the police tended to be influenced directly by and responsive to the CNDD-FDD.
The main human rights abuses included torture and extrajudicial executions of detainees, particularly members of certain opposition political parties, by police, military, and intelligence services; prolonged pretrial detention of detainees, often without formal charges; harsh and sometimes life-threatening prison conditions; and a lack of judicial independence.
Other human rights abuses included interference with and intimidation of government officials and political opposition members by certain members of the CNDD-FDD and the intelligence and police services. The political rights of certain opposition political parties--including the right to hold party meetings--were restricted arbitrarily, and members of these parties were detained, threatened, and intimidated. Some journalists and members of civil society and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) who criticized the government and CNDD-FDD were harassed and intimidated. Corruption existed at all levels of government. Women and girls suffered from widespread sexual and gender-based violence and discrimination, and some were trafficked. Labor rights were not respected, and forced child labor existed.
The general reluctance of and delay by police and public prosecutors to investigate and prosecute--and of judges to hear--cases of government corruption and human rights abuse resulted in a widespread perception of impunity for government and CNDD-FDD officials. In many cases investigative and judicial officials hesitated to act as a result of bribes or threats.