Monday, May 9, 2016

Burkina Faso's military justice system under a harsh spotlight

The internet daily LE FASO. NET has published a critical exposé on the total lack of independence of the Burkina Faso military justice system whilst arguing for its reform including the elimination of military tribunals and reliance instead on common-law jurisdictions.

The author, Dressa Sanou, posits that the new Burkina Faso government has wrongly annulled international Arrest Warrants issued against two former national political leaders:  ex-President Blaise Compaoré as well as the then President of the National Assembly, Guillaume Soro. These warrants were issued following the death in 1987 of then-President Thomas Sankara during a coup which brought Compaoré to power. [Note: Compaoré fled to Ivory Coast last year after being overthrown by a popular uprising.]

According to Sanou, the arrest warrants were annulled for procedural defects. Their annulment was ordered by the President of Burkina Faso, who also acts as Minister of Defense and titular head of the military justice system.  This was emphasized during a May 4, 2016 press conference, when the African state’s Attorney General, Laurent Poda was careful to point out  that his office had nothing to do with this annulment procedure. 

Sanou deplores the absence of any notion of independence by the military justice system.  He notes that the military judiciary is directly responsible and responsive to the Executive, through the Minister of Defense.  He concludes that Burkina Faso has failed to honour its commitment to its own Constitution, the rule of law and to show respect for its chartered obligations towards the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS/CEDEAO).

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