government: parliamentary republic
state of civil and political rights: Partly free
constitution: 2 June 1991 approved by referendum, 11 June 1991 formally adopted; last amended January 2002
legal system: based on French codes and customary law
legislative system: unicameral National Assembly
judicial system: Supreme Court; Appeals Court
religion: Animist and Muslim majorities; 10% Catholic
death row: 13 (as of 13 June 2016)
year of last executions: 0-0-1988
death sentences: 0
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty)
Burkina Faso’s laws currently provide for the use of the death penalty in the penal code, the military code of justice and article 4 of the railways police law.
The death penalty was carried out for the first time in 1960, the same year Burkina Faso gained its independence from the United Kingdom. The last executions took place in 1988, when seven people were put to death for killing an army officer and his wife.
On 10 June 2015, in a closed-door meeting in Ouagadougou, the office of the Transitional National Council (TNC) unanimously adopted seven draft laws to be submitted to the Government, including one concerning the abolition of the death penalty. “We found it necessary to settle the issue, which is controversial. The proposal does not seek to remove the death penalty, but to create alternative sanctions,” said the first deputy chairman of the TNC, Colonel Lucien Honoré Nombré. In August, the national transition parliament started a series of discussions with organisations and interested parties before putting the bill to the vote. At the end of June 2016, the bill had not yet been adopted.
In 2015, two new death sentences were imposed in Burkina Faso.
As of 10 June 2016, there were 13
people under death sentence.
The death penalty on women
Under Article 19 of the Penal Code, a woman under the sentence of death can only be executed after the issue of a certificate of ‘non-pregnancy’. If she is pregnant, a woman cannot be executed before she has given birth. Additionally, Burkina Faso is party to the ICCPR, which prohibits the execution of pregnant women. Burkina Faso is also party to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which prohibits the imposition of a death sentence on mothers of infants and young children. Burkina Faso has also ratified the Protocol on the Rights of Women to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which excludes nursing mothers from execution, according to deathpenaltyworldwide.org.
In April 2013, Burkina Faso was reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council. The country’s delegation noted that no consensus was reached on the abolition of the death penalty during the relevant consultations held by the Consultative Council for Political Reforms in 2011. Nevertheless, a draft bill was prepared ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
On 19 December 2016, Burkina Faso voted again in favour of the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly.