This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Republic of Burundi (Republique du Burundi/Republika y'u Burundi), based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Burundi's Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) has no legal status.
Burundi is a small, landlocked country located in East/Central Africa, bordering the Lake of Tanganyika. It is bounded by Tanzania, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The capital of Burundi is Bujumbura. The official languages are Kirundi, French, and English. The country's population in 2017 was approximately 11.5 million. Burundi is a predominantly Christian country, with about 62% of the population Catholic and 24% Protestant. Islam is a minority religion in Burundi, and Muslims make up about 3% of country's population.
After gaining independence from Belgium in 1962, Burundi officially became an independent nation. However, much of Burundi's history has been turbulent. Burundi's first democratically elected president was assassinated in 1993 after less than 100 days in office, sparking a 12 year long civil war, which ended in 2005 after the internationally-brokered Arusha Agreement. This then paved the way for the current Constitution of Burundi, which was ratified in 2005.
Constitution & Legal Structure
Burundi is referred to as a presidential republic, in which sovereignty belongs to the people and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement is referenced throughout the Constitution. The system of government is based on principles of separation and checks and balances and has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The legal system of Burundi is a mixed legal system of based on Belgian civil law and customary law/traditions.
Constitutional Status of Islamic Law
Islamic law has no constitutional status in Burundi.
Jurisdiction(s) of Islamic Law
Islamic law has no official jurisdiction of operation in Burundi.
Dominant School of Islamic Law
Burundi has no official school of Islamic law. The majority of the country's Muslim population in the country is Sunnī, and there are small Shʿ'ī and Ibādī populations as well. Furthermore, although the Republic of Burundi is officially secular, several religious holidays, including Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, are observed as national holidays.
Sources of Law for Legal Research
For an extended list of legal resources for this country, see the Library of Congress’s Research Guide, and for a narrative review, see the GlobaLex Foreign Law Research Guide (most updated version, where available). The Constitution is available in the LOC Guide in its original language and at Constitute in English translation. For full versions of past constitutions, amendments, and related legislation, see HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated or Oxford Constitutions of the World [subscription required for each].