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Burkina Faso: Abolitionist De Facto

Burkina Faso is the latest country for which we updated our research on the Death Penalty Worldwide website. Burkina Faso has carried out two executions in its history, one in 1984 and the other in 1988. With no executions in the past ten years, it is considered an abolitionist de facto state.

Although its use of capital punishment is limited compared to many other non-abolitionist states, Burkina Faso presents the typically contradictory characteristics of a state that neither applies nor abolishes the death penalty. In recent years, high level governmental actors have declared their support for abolition before international gatherings – including President Compaoré in February 2010 and the Minister for Justice in May later that year. In March 2009, Burkinabe representatives declared before the U.N. Human Rights Council that the death penalty would be abolished by 2013, when its next Universal Periodic Review of human rights is scheduled to take place. Burkina Faso also consistently voted in favor of a U.N. General Assembly Moratorium on all executions.

Nevertheless, no concrete steps towards abolition have been taken, and Burkinabe courts have handed down death sentences as recently as 2009 and 2010. The discrepancy between the external pressure to conform to international human rights norms and an internal political debate of resistance could be one explanation for the dissonance of Burkina Faso’s position with regard to capital punishment.

The full updated entry on the death penalty in Burkina Faso is available here.