Human rights Even more respect for basic rights needed
The armed Islamist groups have been accused of massacres, sexual violence, forced displacement and the deployment of child soldiers. However, there have also been reports of serious human rights violations by government security forces and by the local militias that have been raised since 2015 in many parts of the country. These “self-defense groups” are receiving financial and technical support from the government. However, particularly in the northern part of the country, they are acting largely outside government control.
Media and freedom of the press
Burkina Faso used to be regarded as a model of press freedom in Africa. The 2022 World Press Freedom Index (External link) compiled by the non-governmental organisation Reporters Without Borders ranked Burkina Faso in 41st place out of 180 countries evaluated. Recently, however, independent and critical reporting has been increasingly restricted and broadcasts by some French channels have been suspended. Many media companies are also facing financing problems.
The state of emergency that has been imposed has resulted in shrinking space for numerous civil society organisations.
Women's and girls' rights
Particularly in rural areas, there is still little respect for women's and girls' basic rights. Women are rarely involved in political decision-making processes. Since 2019, a quota has therefore been in place for general elections that requires 30 per cent of the candidates on electoral lists to be women.
Although the age at which girls can legally marry is 17 (20 for boys), many girls are married off at a younger age. Child marriages and a lack of sexuality education often lead to teenage pregnancies. Nearly one in three girls under the age of eighteen has already given birth. Girls who become pregnant almost always have to leave school.
Combating female genital mutilation
Female genital mutilation (FGM) has been banned by law in Burkina Faso since 1996 and the practice is prosecuted. Studies show that the number of cases of FGM is declining markedly, in particular among girls under 14.
Compared with other countries in the region, Burkina Faso's political commitment in this regard is exemplary. As early as the mid-1970s, civil society groups started campaigning for an end to this cruel practice. In 1990, the national committee for the eradication of FGM was founded. The committee was chaired by then First Lady Compaoré. In 2011, the committee was elevated to a National Council.
Child labour and child trafficking
Although the rights of children and young people are enshrined in law, child labour and child trafficking remain widespread. Around 40 per cent of all children work. The majority of them are employed in hazardous and harmful forms of work and under exploitative conditions – for example in cotton production and gold mines.
As at: 20/04/2023