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UN expert calls for support to protect Burkina Faso from terrorism threat

Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson.
UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré
Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson.

UN expert calls for support to protect Burkina Faso from terrorism threat

A United Nations independent expert today called for international support to ward off terrorism from Burkina Faso, stressing it remains vulnerable to radicalization and violent extremists.

“Any significant attack on the infrastructure or security of Burkina Faso would undermine social cohesion within the country, impair inward investment, and further de-stabilize the region,” the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, said at the end of a five-day visit to the country.

“The international community needs to ensure that the material and other resources necessary to protect this small and peaceful State, from both external and internal threats, are made available to it.”

Mr. Emmerson urged the European Union, the UN and other international donors, to maintain and increase global support for Burkina Faso, and recommended donors to target their support to measures that contribute to social justice, as well as to the protection of the country’s borders, alleviation of poverty, and promotion of job and wealth creation in the country.

Burkina Faso is particularly vulnerable at the moment due to its geographical proximity to the conflict in northern Mali, and the length of its borders with Mali and Niger, Mr. Emmerson said, adding that youth unemployment is also a source of tension in the country, where nearly half the population falls beneath the poverty line.

“It is essential that a vulnerable State in such an exposed geographical location, has the tools at its disposal to ensure the security of its borders, maintain the security of inward investment that it is essential to its development, and address the economic, social, political and human rights concerns that can so easily become conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism,” he said.

Mr. Emmerson praised the country’s commitment to peaceful negotiation and recalled Burkina Faso’s role as chief peace negotiator for many of the major conflicts in the region.

“Burkina Faso plays a critical role in promoting peace and dialogue within the sub-region. It will almost certainly occupy an important mediating position in the forthcoming negotiations concerning the future of Mali, and will significantly contribute to the maintenance of any settlement that is reached.”

During his five-day visit, the rights expert met with Government officials as well as representatives of the judiciary and law enforcement, and with prosecutors. Mr. Emmerson also held talks with parliamentarians, non-governmental organizations, and visited detention centres.

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes. Mr. Emmerson is scheduled to present a report to the Council based next year on his visit.