Human rights Even more respect for basic rights is needed

Since the ousting of President Blaise Compaoré, the human rights situation in Burkina Faso has improved, particularly with regard to freedom of opinion, freedom of assembly and freedom of association.

A woman with children at a water point in Burkina Faso

A woman with children at a water point in Burkina Faso

A woman with children at a water point in Burkina Faso

Numerous media and civil society organisations are following political developments with a critical eye. Signs of corruption are publicly discussed. The 2021 World Press Freedom Index compiled by the non-governmental organisation Reporters Without Borders ranks Burkina Faso in 37th place out of 180 countries evaluated. It is primarily media companies' lack of financial resources that hampers high-quality independent reporting.

Security forces operating in the conflict regions have been accused of committing human rights violations in their efforts to combat terrorism. Furthermore, since 2015, local militias have been raised in many parts of the country. It is difficult for the government to take action against violations of basic rights by such militias.

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 2009, 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 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 born a child. 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 (Comité national de lutte contre la pratique de l'excision, CNLPE) 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, or as domestic workers.

A community health worker in the village of Djomga in Dori, northeastern Burkina Faso, talks about maternal and child health and proper hygiene.

A community health worker in the village of Djomga in Dori, northeastern Burkina Faso, talks about maternal and child health and proper hygiene.

A community health worker in the village of Djomga in Dori, northeastern Burkina Faso, talks about maternal and child health and proper hygiene.