HRW: Burkina Faso militia implicated in executions and torturing civilians News
© WikiMedia (Tatiana Mossot (VOA))
HRW: Burkina Faso militia implicated in executions and torturing civilians

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on Thursday three episodes involving the militia in Burkina Faso have resulted in the forced disappearances and purported deaths of 18 men, the execution of at least nine men and the severe beating of children between the ages of 6 and 16. The armed forces allegedly committed these atrocities during counterinsurgency campaigns against Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist armed groups who infiltrated into the nation from Mali in 2016.

In response to the report, Deputy Africa Director at HRW Carine Kaneza Nantulya commented, “Executions and disappearances by Burkina Faso’s army are not only war crimes, but they breed resentment among targeted populations that fuel recruitment to armed groups. The Burkina Faso authorities should anchor their counterinsurgency strategy on protecting civilians, respecting human rights, and providing accountability for abuses.”

HRW has also charged the militia with killing at least 156 individuals in cold blood in April 2023 in the village of Karma. The troops also pillaged and destroyed property. Authorities denounced the killing in Karma, with the public prosecutor in Ouahigouya, the provincial capital, alleging that men dressed in Burkinabè army uniforms slaughtered 60 people in Karma. He further assured the populace that inquiries were being conducted.

According to HRW, Peul or Fulani people made up most of those detained, tortured, and killed by Burkinabe security personnel. For instance, in April 2023, military personnel detained and killed 10 Fulani men over insurgent claims. This overt hostility originates from the misconception that all ethnic Fulani are Islamist combatants or sympathizers.

Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has also expressed alarm about the situation in Burkina Faso. He pointed out that while Islamist organizations are gravely violating human rights, the militia was also engaging in similar behaviour. He pleaded with the authorities to investigate alleged abuses of human rights. In an effort to safeguard the rights of people held during military operations, Burkina Faso introduced a law in February of this year to strengthen the function of provost marshals, who are in charge of maintaining discipline in the armed forces.