IBJ established its first Defender Resource Center in Burundi in Bujumbura in 2008. Since then, Burundi Bridges to Justice has worked to strengthen the legal system in Burundi and carried out numerous activities, such as building a group of “Women Lawyers Team” to offer pro-bono legal defense to female detainees by female lawyers, conducting training for prison officials, police, and judges, organizing roundtables in order to promote best practices and legal reform, and providing training for defense lawyers.

Impact in Numbers

When IBJ first came to Burundi in 2008, there were only 70 lawyers working in the entire country, and there was no form of legal aid for its approximately 9 million people. A decade after IBJ started working in Burundi, the number of lawyers adhering to the Bujumbura Bar Association multiplied by ten. Also, when IBJ began its program in Burundi in 2008, the rate of pre-trial detention was between 62% and 66%, now it is around 40%. Another development in that regard is that Burundi has got another bar association, the Gitega Bar Association which counts around three hundred lawyers. In 2018, the first National Legal Aid strategy was adopted.

  • 439 lawyers trained
  • 7,511 cases represented by BBJ lawyers
  • 476 justice officials trained through roundtables
  • 5,429,524 people reached through rights awareness campaigns
  • 1 Defender Rights Centre (DRC)
  • 7 eLearning Modules created

Systems Change

BBJ has Memorandums of Understanding with the General Inspectorate of Burundi National Police, the Ministry of Justice and Civic protection, and the Burundi Bar Association. It also developed strategic partnerships with the Gitega Bar Association, the Governmental Action Observatory (AOG), the African Union Human Rights Observers Mission, the National Independent Commission for Human Rights (CNIDH), the Association of Catholic Jurists of Burundi (AJCB), and the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services (THARS).

High impact successes include:

  • BBJ sent a letter to the Minister of Justice suggesting measures to prevent and protect Burundi detainees against Covid-19.
  • BBJ launched a Women Lawyers Team, and its first retreat session was conducted after an intensive legal defense to women detainees offered on a pro bono basis by women lawyers.
  • In partnership with the General Inspectorate of Burundi National Police, BBJ conducted an intensive training of 100 days to 154 Judicial Police Officers.
  • BBJ intensified its early access to a counsel program and launched the rebuilding trust through the rule of law project which was targeting security forces and the general population in Bujumbura.

Defender resources

In Burundi, IBJ provides training, tools, manuals and eLearning, developed with our partners, funded through grants, and resourced through pro-bono assistance.

  • DefenseWiki in French, English and Spanish– references, legal codes, and assessments
  • Defender Manual – Criminal Defender ToolKit – French
  • Defender Manual – Pre-trial detention ToolKit – French
  • eLearning Modules – in-depth and topic-focussed training (login required).

What we need

There are many ways to get involved, to help make a long term difference. Please get in touch.