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UA 390/90 - Burkina Faso: death in detention: Guillaume Sessouma

, N° d'index: AFR 60/008/1990

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 60/08/90
Distr: UA/SC
UA 390/90 Death in detention 27 September 1990
(See also UA 04/90, AFR 60/01/90, 8 January; and follow-ups
AFR 60/03/90, 6 February; AFR 60/04/90, 21 March; and AFR 60/06/90,
18 June)
BURKINA FASO: Guillaume SESSOUMA, university teacher
Amnesty International has received unofficial confirmation that
university teacher Guillaume Sessouma died as a result of torture in
early January 1990, within a week of his arrest.
Guillaume Sessouma was not seen after his arrest on or shortly
after on 23 December 1989 and there were unconfirmed reports that he
had been ill-treated while held in secret, unacknowledged detention.
In response to inquiries, the Burkinabè authorities claimed that he had
escaped from detention. Contradictory official statements, however,
led to fears that he was in fact detained and may have been ill-treated.
According to unofficial reports, Guillaume Sessouma's body was
taken by security officials to a hospital in Ouagadougou in early January
1990, but then taken away to the Conseil de l'Entente building, also
in the capital, which has been used as a place of detention. His family
has not been officially notified of his death and his place of burial
is not known. Guillaume Sessouma was married and had three children,
one of whom was born after his death.
Guillaume Sessouma, aged 38, had studied plant biology (physiologie
végétale) at the University in Dijon in France and had also undertaken
research at the University in Groningen in the Netherlands. As well
as teaching at the University of Ouagadougou, he had been Director of
the Institut du développement rural, Institute of Rural Development,
in Burkina Faso.
Guillaume Sessouma was among a group of 31 people arrested in
December 1989 in connection with an alleged conspiracy against the
government (see UA 04/90 etc, as above). Those arrested, both civilians
and soldiers, appear to have been closely associated with former President
Thomas Sankara who was killed in the coup in October 1987 which brought
President Blaise Compaoré to power. Guillaume Sessouma and others among
those arrested were members of the Union de lutte communiste -
reconstruite (ULC-R), Union of Communist Struggle - Reconstructed, a
political grouping which had participated in the government of President
Amnesty International believes that Guillaume Sessouma may have
been a prisoner of conscience, detained solely because of his political
Judicial investigations began into the cases of 27 of those arrested
- the government claimed that four, including Guillaume Sessouma, had
escaped - and seven were released uncharged in June, but none of the
others has yet been brought to trial.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telegrams/telexes/airmail letters in FRENCH if
- expressing grave concern about unofficial reports that Guillaume
Sessouma died as a result of injuries inflicted in custody after his
arrest in December 1989;
- urging that, if he did indeed die in custody, the authorities should
acknowledge his death and establish responsibility for it;
- requesting that an official investigation be set up, to be headed
by an independent and impartial figure, such as a judge, to hear evidence
about Guillaume Sessouma's treatment in custody and to establish exactly
what happened to him, and to make its findings public;
- urging that any members of the security forces found to have been
involved in torturing or killing Guillaume Sessouma, or colluding in
a cover-up of his death, be prosecuted;
- calling on the government, while it is awaiting the results of this
inquiry, to take immediate action to ensure that detainees cannot be
subjected to torture, in particular by ending the practice of prolonged
incommunicado detention.
Son Excellence Capitaine Blaise Compaoré
Président du Front Populaire
Chef de l'Etat et Chef du Gouvernement
Présidence du Faso Telegrams: President Compaoré,
BP 7031 Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso Telexes: 5221 prefaso bf
Monsieur le Capitaine Gilbert Diendéré
Secrétaire chargé de la Défense et de
la sécurité
Comité exécutif du Front populaire Telegrams: Capitaine Diendéré,
Secrétariat général du gouvernement Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso Telexes: 5555 scge gouv bf
Monsieur André Roch Kaboré
Ministre d'Etat Telegrams: Ministre d'Etat
Secrétariat général du Kaboré, Ouagadougou, Burkina
gouvernement Faso
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso Telexes: 5555 scge gouv bf
Monsieur Alidou Ouedraogo Monsieur Pierre Waongo
Président Rédacteur
Mouvement burkinabè des droits de Sidwaya
l'homme et des peuples (MBDHP) Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
01 BP 2055
Ouagadougou 01, Burkina Faso
Agence burkinabè de presse
BP 2507
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
and to diplomatic representatives of Burkina Faso in your country
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International
Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 8 November

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