In Burkina Faso, at least 400 people, including many minors, have been awaiting trial on terrorism charges for years.
Horatio Sidibe says three relatives, including his son, have been held in Burkina Faso’s maximum security prison for three years.
Sidibe, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, says he does not know why he is being held.
Since Burkina Faso began its war seven years ago against armed groups linked to Islamic State, al-Qaeda and local bandits, at least 400 civilians have been arrested and detained on suspicion of terrorism-related crimes He is going. Some are children under the age of sixteen.
“It’s been more than a year since I came to see him, because I have no means to do so,” Sidibe said. “Two weeks ago, my brother went to visit him and gave me some of his news.”
The West African country created a penal code for crimes of terrorism in 2019. But so far, only two people have been tried and convicted on terrorism charges.
Sidibe says his relatives are being held in a prison in the city of Ziniare, which is twice its official capacity.
“I really need some judicial help, a lawyer, to follow up on their case and set them free, because it’s a really long time that they’ve been sent to prison,” she said.
Koumbo Barry, whose name has also been changed to protect his identity, says his son has been held without trial for nearly two years.
“I can’t stop crying, because I haven’t been told any reason for his arrest,” she said. “I want government officials to help me find out why my sons were arrested and left in that jail. Today, I’m old and I can’t work. I want to help their wives and kids.” I am living together. It is difficult to feed them. My husband is old, everyone in the house is upset due to this situation.”
Daouda Dialo is a Burkinabe human rights activist who runs the rights group, The Collective Against Impunity and Stigmatization of Communities. He says some detainees have been waiting for trial for five years.
“As a human rights defender, we find that this pre-trial detention is excessive,” he said. “This is an abuse that must be corrected at the level of the law, because we cannot detain someone indefinitely to wait for his trial. The fact that justice is not working can lead to further violence and aggravation. may contribute to alertness.”
Attending a conference on the processing of terrorism crimes on Friday, Burkina Faso’s President Roch Kabore said the country would continue to prosecute terrorism suspects despite funding concerns.
“We are delighted that we have been able to prosecute a terrorist for the first time and I can tell you that I have addressed all the concerns and we will ensure that the state can effectively fulfill these conditions,” he said. ” “It’s true that we have to take into account the fact that we have financial difficulties, but I think we can try to consolidate what we already have.”
Although testing of two people is a sign of progress, it remains to be seen how soon more tests will take place.