Burkina Faso 2016/2017

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Burkina Faso 2016/2017

The political turmoil of the previous two years largely receded. Armed groups committed abuses. The rates of maternal mortality as well as early and forced marriage remained high, although the government began to address the issues.


In September the government established a commission to draft a new Constitution to usher in the “Fifth Republic”.

Military tribunal

In June, the military tribunal indicted 14 people, including former President Blaise Compaoré, suspected of involvement in the assassination of President Thomas Sankara in 1987. Seven people, including Colonel Alidou Guebré and Caporal Wampasba Nacouma, were arrested in October and charged. In May, Burkina Faso issued an international arrest warrant for the former President and another of those indicted who were living in exile.

Between July and October, 38 of 85 people charged with threatening state security, crimes against humanity and murder following a coup attempt in September 2015 were provisionally released, including journalists Caroline Yoda and Adama Ouédraogo. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Djibril Bassolé and General Gilbert Dienderé remained in custody awaiting trial by the military tribunal. In April, the authorities lifted the international arrest warrant for Guillaume Soro, President of the National Assembly of Côte d’Ivoire, who had been investigated for alleged involvement in the attempted coup.

Abuses by armed groups

Throughout the year, armed groups attacked civilians and members of the security forces, in the capital, Ouagadougou, and in the north near the Malian border.

In January, an armed group deliberately and indiscriminately killed and injured civilians in an attack in Ouagadougou. Al-Mourabitoune, a group affiliated to Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb, claimed responsibility. At least 30 people were killed, including a photographer and a driver working on behalf of Amnesty International.

In May, June, October and December, the authorities announced that armed groups had attacked police stations near the Malian border, killing 21 people in total and wounding others.

Self-defence militia called “Kogleweogo”, mainly comprising farmers and cattle breeders, committed abuses, including beatings and abductions. Civil society organizations criticized the authorities for doing too little to prevent and remedy such abuses. The Minister of Justice pledged to end the militias’ activities. In October, a decree was adopted to regulate their activities.

In September, four Kogleweogo members charged in relation to an armed gathering were sentenced to six months in prison, while 26 others were given suspended sentences of between 10 and 12 months.


In July, the UN Human Rights Committee stressed that the government should redouble its efforts to fully and impartially investigate all human rights violations committed by armed forces, including the Presidential Guard (RSP), sanction those found guilty and provide remedy to the victims.

The Commission of Inquiry established in 2015 to investigate the killing of at least 10 people and the wounding of hundreds by security forces in October 2014 submitted its report to the Prime Minister. The Commission’s conclusions were not made public.

Women’s rights

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stated that women in rural areas were particularly disadvantaged regarding economic, social and cultural rights. The Committee recommended that Burkina Faso revise its legislation on the prevention and punishment of violence against women and girls, and provide more support to survivors. It also recommended that all acts of rape by spouses be punished and that the reporting of such offences be encouraged.

In July, the UN Human Rights Committee noted that more women should have positions in public office.

Sexual and reproductive rights

Only 16% of women in Burkina Faso were using a modern method of contraception and nearly 30% of girls and young women aged 15-19 in rural areas were pregnant or already had a child. Some women and girls reported that they did not know that sexual intercourse could lead to pregnancy. Many said the cost of contraceptives prevented their use or meant they did not use them consistently. These factors resulted in high-risk and unwanted pregnancies that sometimes led to dangerous, clandestine abortions. 1

At least 2,800 women die in childbirth annually in Burkina Faso. In March, the authorities removed some key financial barriers facing pregnant women, including costs relating to caesarean sections and delivery.

Early and forced marriage

Burkina Faso had one of the world’s highest rates of early and forced marriage. Women and girls reported that they were forced to marry as a result of violence, coercion and the pressure linked to the money and goods offered to their families as part of the marriage. In the Sahel region, more than half of girls aged 15-17 were married.

The authorities adopted a national strategy to end child marriage by 2025. The plan defines a child as someone under the age of 18, and considers “marriage” to include all forms of union between a man and woman, whether celebrated by a public officer or a traditional or religious leader. However, serious concerns remained about the legal framework and weaknesses in enforcement of the law.

  1. Coerced and denied: Forced marriages and barriers to contraception in Burkina Faso (AFR 60/3851/2016)

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