victims supported


new cases
at international level


legal professional trained


annual budget (CHF)

Now in its sixth year of existence, the Burundi program has shifted its strategy to skills transfer and autonomy-building of local partners.

Worldwide condemnation of systematic abuse

Burundi made international headlines in November 2017 when the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced an investigation into alleged international crimes. Earlier in the year, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Burundi had reached similar observations, confirming the persistence of extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and sexual violence since 2015.

Party in power will crush whoever defies its authority

As the country sunk into quasi-total isolation, access to the field became increasingly problematic. Most of TRIAL International’s actions were therefore conducted from abroad, including neighboring countries.

“We live in permanent fear”: Burundians’ daily ordeal

A unique and direct source of information

Rampant lawlessness in Burundi led TRIAL International to focus its litigation efforts on international bodies in 2017.

Nevertheless, its rare insight into the dysfunctional domestic judiciary enabled the organisation to provide first-hand information to many international bodies, including the ICC, on the difficulties victims faced in obtaining justice and reparation. This proved essential especially for the ICC, which may only investigate crimes that States are unwilling or unable to address.

Burundi before the ICC: is the complementarity assessment satisfied?


In 2017, TRIAL International conducted its first fact-finding mission on sexual violence cases. It interviewed 40 women and men, all direct victims of such crimes, who had sought refuge in Rwanda. Their testimonies will contribute to document, raise awareness and prosecute this under-reported form of violence.

Irregularities in underage rape case

Towards better autonomy

Given the state of the domestic judiciary and the ongoing ICC investigation, TRIAL International focused its training efforts on international litigation, and in particular the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. It held a special session on the documentation of sexual violence cases, in which participants learned international standards and best practices on documenting cases while avoiding re-traumatizing survivors.

With Burundi withdrawing in itself, it also became increasingly urgent that local actors were equipped to fight impunity autonomously. For the first time, a trained lawyer also became a trainer himself, passing on to his peers the knowledge he had received from TRIAL International. Former trainees were also encouraged to submit international cases in their own capacity, ensuring a continuum with TRIAL International’s litigation efforts.

A Burundian lawyer on the frontline

TRIAL International’s unique role in Burundi

  • TRIAL International was the first NGO to file cases against Burundi before international and regional human rights mechanisms.
  • It is the only actor offering regular coaching sessions to local lawyers.


Pre-crisis violence must not go unpunished