One such partner is NACANABO Idrissa, a trained educator, journalist and director of an online news site called EDUCMEDIAS, which focuses on education. He is based in Ouahigouya, the capital of the Nord region, in Burkina Faso. In March 2022, Idrissa participated in a training workshop that ABA ROLI delivered with support from USAID. The training workshop provided instructions about Burkina Faso’s criminal justice system. The training workshop was one part of a broader program initiative to educate and train representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) and other key stakeholders, such as media organizations, about criminal justice systems in Burkina Faso. The trainings focused in particular on the Guide for Criminal Defendants (or Guide à l’usage du justiciable en matière pénale au Burkina Faso, in French), which was developed and updated by HRAJ’s partner organization CIFDHA. Through the training workshop, Idrissa acquired a knowledge of the criminal justice system that enabled him to raise awareness within his community about the services and organizations that are available to assist crime victims, and in particular about resources for victims of sexual abuse.
In May 2022, in Ouahigouya, a displaced girl was raped by an unknown individual while she was returning from school. Soon after, Idrissa learned of the incident through his networks and went about confirming details of the incident. Idrissa met several sources, including the parents of the victim, who received him and discussed their experience and the broader problem of sexual abuse. After confirming the facts, Idrissa published an article on his online media called EDUCMEDIAS in which he denounced the incident and brought awareness to the increasing number of cases of sexual abuse in his community (Ouahigouya : Une élève déplacée interne de la terminale victime de viol | EDUCMEDIAS).
Idrissa’s article created awareness of the incident, which led other media outlets, including the State-owned Burkinabè Information Agency (AIB), to reference the incident and the increasing prevalence of SGBV crimes. The subsequent outcry over this rape incident motivated another victim of an attempted rape, with similarities to the incident that Idrissa reported, to come forward and bring her experience to the police. The details shared by the second victim led to the identification and arrest of the perpetrator, who was subsequently identified as the perpetrator in the rape case denounced by Idrissa. The perpetrator was arrested, tried and sentenced for the offense. Beyond this individual case, Idrissa’s reporting led to a broader call for improved handling of rape cases and for better care and treatment for rape victims.
This legal outcome has encouraged Idrissa to continue promoting access to justice, particularly in favor of vulnerable individuals. Idrissa noted, “I have seen that my work of denunciation and information on human rights issues has paid off and this is thanks to the training on the Guide for the Criminal Defendant in Burkina Faso which gave me the courage to deal with a justice issue that has led to this result. I am also filled with a sense of satisfaction to have been the first media to deal with the issue and be a resource for others.”