Burkina Faso in human rights impasse


Burkina Faso terrorism

from ISSOUF TRAORE in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
OUAGADOUGOU, (CAJ News) BURKINA Faso has lurched into a human rights dilemma while delivering justice to victims and families of the 2018 terror attack on a primary school.

Two members of the Ansaroul Islam, an armed Islamist group, have been sentenced to 20 years in prison for the attack on the school in Béléhédé village.

While this provided some rare accountability for attacks on education and has been welcomed by victims, proceedings were handled in a controversial manner.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the proceedings were marked by more than three years of pre-trial detention, and trial observers indicated the defendants were not informed in court of their right to legal counsel under the law.

“As governments work to eradicate violence against education, accountability should not come at the cost of fair justice,” said Lauren Seibert, HRW Researcher, Refugee and Migrant Rights Division.

The affected school’s former principal has been quoted as welcoming the verdict.

He had previously recounted how six armed men had showed up at the school, blindfolded him, kicked him in the head, stole his belongings, and burned his house to the ground.

HRW has documented scores of other attacks in which armed Islamist groups killed, beat, and abducted education professionals, burned and looted schools and terrorised students.

Seibert said by holding some perpetrators of the 2018 attack to account, Burkina Faso authorities signaled that such attacks carried serious consequences under the law.

The activist’s sentiments come days before the International Day to Protect Education from Attack.

It is commemorated on September 9.

Burkina Faso has been suffering armed Islamist insurgent groups since the emergence of Ansaroul Islam in 2016.

More than 1 800 people have been killed.

HRW documented 126 attacks on students, education professionals and schools occurring between 2017 and 2020.

– CAJ News

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