Burkina Faso faces a myriad of challenges that negatively impact the human rights situation. Two military-led coups in 2022 stalled the country, leaving it in a perpetual crisis of governance. Environmental change is straining food production and motivating intercommunal conflict. Increasing government restrictions have constrained public freedoms, such as access to information and the right to assemble and demonstrate. Further, the expansion of armed groups, including violent extremist organizations, has caused insecurity and strife. In response, state security forces and pro-government militias have arrested and killed large numbers of alleged terrorist suspects and civilians. Collectively these dynamics are fueling a widespread yet largely neglected displacement disaster, displacing an estimated 2 million people, or 10 percent of Burkina Faso’s population.
Within this challenging context, ABA ROLI’s Human Rights and Access to Justice (HRAJ) program in Burkina Faso seeks to strengthen the state’s capacity to prevent and punish human rights violations (HRVs) by providing technical guidance and resources to improve investigation and documentation of offenses. The program works to raise the populations’ awareness of avenues to access justice, and supports partners to advance human rights, including through the National Human Rights Commission of Burkina Faso (NHRC) and various civil society organizations.
ABA ROLI’s close collaboration with the NHRC aims to increase public confidence in the human rights institution’s ability to promote accountability for serious rights violations, even when committed by government actors. In 2023, ABA ROLI’s support enabled the NHRC to receive and investigate 1,095 cases of alleged HRVs. Following the NHRC investigations, ABA ROLI supported the NHRC to actively engage the country’s military leadership to commit to reducing offenses against civilians and to promote judicial investigations into offenders. ABA ROLI’s support enabled the NHRC to conduct field missions to monitor conditions in detention centers, to improve the NHRC case database to more accurately catalogue and monitor documented HRVs, and to submit an alternative report on the human rights situation in Burkina Faso to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights as part of the UPR process. At a local level, ABA ROLI’s support enabled the NHRC to produce and disseminate its human rights information magazine "Dignité".
ABA ROLI also supported local Burkinabé CSO partners to provide legal aid services to communities and increase access to justice for low-income persons. ABA ROLI’s subgrant partner, the Center for Information and Training on Human Rights in Africa (French, Le Centre d'Information et de Formation en matière de Droits Humains en Afrique - CIFDHA) documented 891 reported cases of HRVs or abuses and provided legal information, advice, and, in some instances, legal representation. ABA ROLI-supported paralegals working with CIFDHA conducted 87 awareness-raising sessions on themes related to the functioning of the formal justice system and the human rights protection mechanisms in Burkina Faso. More than 7,534 people participated in the public awareness sessions, including over 5,000 women.