October 10, 2001 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Reporters sans frontières files suit against Blaise Compaoré

Reporters sans frontières (Reporters without Borders; RSF) has filed a suit against the president of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré, at the time of his visit to France on 11 October. Represented by their council, Sophie Coupry, RSF hopes that French courts will examine Blaise Compaoré's responsibility in acts of torture committed by members of the presidential guard, that is under his responsibility. Since French legislation has integrated the 1984 convention against torture in its internal laws, French courts have the competence to judge those responsible for acts of torture, even if these acts did not occur on its territory or to one of its citizens. On 13 December 1998, Norbert Zongo, publisher of L'Indépendant, and three companions were murdered in Sapouy (100 km south of Ouagadougou). Zongo had long been investigating the death of David Ouédraogo, chauffeur for François Compaoré, presidential advisor and brother of the head of state. Suspected of theft, David Ouédraogo and three other employees of François Compaoré were arrested in December 1997 by members of Blaise Compaoré's personal guard and held for several weeks in buildings used to house the presidential guards. David Ouédraogo died from the torture he suffered there. The independent investigative commission, set up to shed light on the death of Norbert Zongo, established in its final report, published on 6 May 1999, that Zongo was killed "following his investigations into the Ouédraogo case". The commission incriminated six members of the presidential guard. While convictions were handed down in the Ouédraogo case, the courts of Burkina Faso only tried those who carried out these crimes. Neither Blaise Compaoré nor his brother François were investigated. By filing suit in France, RSF hopes to end the impunity that reigns in Burkina Faso.