The UN human rights chief has called for increased efforts to protect vulnerable people in Burkina Faso’s escalating conflict with Islamist militants. Rights groups say Burkina Faso has struggled to uphold human rights during its long-running conflict with armed groups linked to Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet held a press conference in Ouagadougou on Wednesday at the end of a three-day visit to Burkina Faso. This was the first time the UN human rights chief had visited the country. Her office said in October that it was making its presence felt in the country to support the government.
Bachelet referred to the “challenging context” of six years of conflict with armed groups linked to al-Qaeda, the Islamic State group and local bandit. He cited allegations of summary executions, kidnappings, forced disappearances and sexual violence by violent extremist groups, local defense groups, national security and defense forces, among others.
A woman who survived the unrest told VOA earlier this year how her husband was abducted one night from an internally displaced persons camp near the city of Ouhigoya.
When asked who took her husband, she said, “I don’t know whether they were volunteers or security personnel, but I know they were not terrorists.” She continued, “The only thing I want right now is to make sure that nothing happens to me and my family. The message I have for the government is to make sure we stay alive where we are now.
Burkinabe officials did not respond to a request for an interview on the kidnapping.
Rights groups have said extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances by security forces are widespread in Burkina Faso, with relatives of hundreds of families lost
Asked what the new UN human rights office can do to prevent attacks on civilian populations, Bachelet said this.
“We believe that these attacks must stop immediately. Those attacks against the population and the population must be protected… and today with civil society groups he said justice is important. That is why we have asked the government to bring justice to all the guilty. to be put in the dock.”
So far no one has been convicted of nonjudicial killings against civilians in Burkina Faso.
Daouda Diallo runs the Burkinabe human rights group, Collective Against Impunity and the Stigma of Communities.
He told the VOA that it was important to respect Burkina Faso’s commitments at the regional and international level as it signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
However, most human rights abuses are being committed by armed groups and not by security forces. Osman Diallo, a Burkina Faso researcher for Amnesty International, says, “The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara has deliberately targeted civilians and committed massive atrocities against them. I think one of the most symbolic cases is June 2021 There was an attack on Solhan.
In early June, Burkina Faso saw its worst terrorist attack on civilians since conflict began with armed groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and Islamic State. At least 138 people were killed in Solhan village.