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: 12 (end 2017)
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)
On 1 June 2018, a new Penal Code was approved with 83 votes in favor and 42 against. It abolishes the death penalty and modifies the law n°043-96/ ADP of 13 November 1996 on the previous penal code. The bill proposing the abolition of death penalty was introduced in 2015 in Parliament by the then head of the National Transition Council Cheriff Sy.
According to Rene Bagoro, Burkina Faso’s Justice Minister, the newly adopted penal code will promote a “more credible, equitable, accessible and effective justice in the application of criminal law.
The decision to abolish the death penalty comes amid a landmark trial this year over a failed 2015 coup. Two former presidential aides are among more than 80 people facing the military tribunal.
Local media report this move will pave the way for the extradition of Francois Compaore – the younger brother of former Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore – from France.
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.
As of end 2017, 12 people were on death row.
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.