Burkina Faso: Human rights concerns in wake of mass arrests
|Publisher||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)|
|Publication Date||4 March 2008|
|Cite as||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Burkina Faso: Human rights concerns in wake of mass arrests, 4 March 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47cfba89c.html [accessed 20 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
"There are reports that some [detainees] have been tortured, and some have been sent to jail without being heard by an investigative judge," Phillipe Ouédraogo, the leader of the "G14" coalition of opposition political groups told IRIN.
The government's spokesman and transport minister Phillipe Sawadogo told journalists on 4 March that Nana, the opposition leader, is accused of "holding seditious sentiments."
Nana had called for a "dead city" day of strikes and civil action in Ouagadougou which took place on 28 February to protest against increases in the prices of basic products.
Similar demonstrations took place earlier in Bobo-Dioulasso, the second largest city in the country, as well Banforo and Ouahigouya. Some of the protests turned violent.
On 3 March the state-owned newspaper Sidwaya reported that 29 persons had already been sentenced to between three and 36 months in prison in Bobo-Dioulasso, less than two weeks after the strikes had occurred.
The trials have raised the concerns of human rights advocates and opposition politicians.
"This is not normal," Ouédraogo, the leader of the "G14" coalition said. "Everybody's constitutional rights must be respected, above all by the state,"
Ouédraogo also accused the police forces of "exaggerating" the number of protestors and having arrested many people in the streets at random.
Jean Chrizogone Zougmonré, chairman of the Movement of Burkinabe for Human Rights (MBDHP), the main human rights movement in the country, confirmed that some of the people arrested have been victims of "serious violence" at the hands of the security services.
He said his organisation has appealed to authorities to prevent further abuses.
Since the beginning of the demonstration in Burkina Faso authorities have rejected claims that price hikes of between 10 and 65 percent on basic goods in recent months are a result of new taxes.
The government is now forcing importers to pay their taxes, the Minister of Economy and Finance Jean Baptiste Compaoré reiterated on 4 March.
"In the past [money] was going straight into the pockets of individuals? now it is time for the government to take what it is owed,'' he said at a press conference.