Burkina Faso has joined the global trend toward abolition of the death penalty in Africa
Abolition of the death penalty in Burkina Faso is a great step forward. It is the result of many years of mobilization of civil society that has constantly reminded the authorities how inconceivable this violation of the right to life has become in the face of commitments to better respect for human rights made by the State, both at the national and international levels.
Chrysogone Zougmore, Président of MBDHP
From an international perspective, retention of the death penalty became contradictory for Burkina Faso which is a State party to the vast majority of regional and international human rights instruments, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which excludes the death penalty.
At the domestic level, Burkina Faso was de facto abolitionist, the last recorded execution dating back to 1988. In 2016, work began on drafting a new Constitution, in accordance with the provisions of the "Transition Charter" adopted by the political parties, the defence and security forces and civil society after the fall of former President Blaise Compaoré on 31 October 2014. The preliminary draft Constitution, submitted to President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré on 14 November 2017, confirms the abolition of the death penalty in Article 5, further demonstrating the will of the Burkinabe State to break with this unjust and discriminatory practice because it is too often pronounced against poor and/or vulnerable people.
Finally, Burkina Faso is part of the African continent’s movement for abolition. While in 1990, only Cape Verde had abolished the death penalty, today 40 of the 55 African Union member States are abolitionist in law or practice. Although Botswana and Sudan have both resumed executions in 2018, African states’ efforts on the road to abolition are regularly renewed. The latest example is the establishment in February 2018 of a moratorium officially prohibiting executions in the Gambia.
To achieve continental abolition, national progress towards the abolition of the death penalty must go hand in hand with work within the African Union. The Working group of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on the death penalty is taking specific action to ensure that a protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the abolition of the death penalty in Africa is adopted.
"The adoption of such a Protocol to the African Charter is essential to strengthen and sustain the African abolitionist movement. This regional instrument should make it possible to plead for a better respect of human rights and for a fairer justice".
Alice Mogwe, FIDH Secretary General
In order to contribute to the efforts of African civil societies, our organizations have developed new tools to raise awareness on the abolition of the death penalty in Africa. A study entitled "Triggers for the abolition of the death penalty in Africa, a Southern African perspective" and a documentary entitled "Gambia has decided" were officially launched on 5 November 2017, during the 61st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR).
Our organizations reiterate their total opposition to the death penalty for all crimes and in all circumstances.