Finally, a land case law (jurisprudence) in Burundi

The Supreme Court of Burundi has just published a collection of land-related case law, the fifth Edition of “Case law Magazine of the Supreme Court of Burundi”. The book has recently been presented to the public on the 15th of December 2022.

A case-law refers to "a number of solutions provided by court decisions in the application of law (particularly in the interpretation of the law when it is obscure) or even in the creation of law (when it is necessary to complete the law, to establish a lacking rule)".

This noble work has been achieved in accordance with article 25 of the law number 1/21 of the 3rd August 2019 governing the Supreme Court of Burundi which requires the publication of its case-law every six months.  The case law comes at the right time, especially given the fact that it deals with a very sensitive aspect in the lives of Burundians.

In fact land Conflicts proliferation is a nuisance to social environment and security. The management of those very conflicts remains problematic both at the community level and the judiciary level. It has been noticed that land disputes are more compared to other forms of conflicts presented to the judiciary. About half of land disputes cases brought before courts are related to the right to inheritance and are therefore naturally intra-family.

The issue of succession in Burundi is complicated by the absence of a law that actually governs it. In fact, up to today, this aspect is governed by custom. Even the “Code Foncier” the most important legal text, implicitly refers to custom, particularly when it comes to conflicts related to inheritance (Article 29 of the book).

Yet, custom is neither uniform nor codified for people to know its content. Moreover, the Burundian custom which is mainly centered on patriarchal system, is perceived as discriminatory with regard to girls and women who do not inherit property on an equal basis as their brothers.

The main aim of this collection of land-related case law is to help legal practitioners (magistrates, lawyers, etc.) and beneficiaries of justice to refer to it in the event of a legal vacuum or vagueness in order to standardize practices and provide better justice for all, both men and women. It should be noted that the selected judgments to be set up as models are consistent with the principles of equality and non-discrimination enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi (articles 13 and 19) and the international legal instruments that have been regularly ratified by The country, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

As for its content, the collection consists of a preface by the President of the Supreme Court, a foreword and 29 judgments and rulings collected from the Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeal of Burundi. These rulings are divided into 9 land-related themes, namely: (1) disputes related to sharing of family property; (2) the rights of natural children in the estate of their maternal grandfather; (3) the status of surviving wife; (4) the rights of children from different unions (de lits différents; (5) Sharing and freedom to test; (6) the thirty-year prescription; (7) rights to way; (8) the prior agreement of the seller's spouse; (9) the sale of an undivided property.

It should be noted that the judgments were commented by experienced law professionals and academics, under the Supreme Court supervision

This publication is with no doubt a good way of improving the efficiency of justice in general and land justice in particular.

The collection was compiled with the support of the Land and Development Expertise Center, LADEC in the framework of the implementation of the Swiss-funded project "Prévention et Résolution des Conflits Fonciers" (PRCF).

Get and read the book HERE

N°4, RN 15, Ngozi-Burundi

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