Constitutional Provisions

The 1991 Constitution of Burkina Faso (as amended) guarantees the "protection of life, security, and physical integrity" It is stipulated that "inhuman and cruel, degrading and humiliating treatments, physical or moral torture, services and mistreatments inflicted on children and all forms of the degradation of Man, are forbidden and punished by the law."Art. 2, 1991 Constitution of Burkina Faso (as amended).

Article 7 of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of assembly and of demonstration, subject to "respect for the law, for public order, for good morals and for the human person".

The Constitution does not specifically regulate the use of force by the police or other law enforcement agencies.

A referendum on a new Constitution was scheduled to be held by 2020 at the latest.

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 State Party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints No
CAT Optional Protocol 1 State Party
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court State Party

Regional Treaties

Adherence to Regional Human Rights Treaties
1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights State Party
1998 Protocol to the African Charter on the African Court State Party
Article 34(6) declaration regarding individual petitions Yes
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties at Regional Level
Malabo Protocol on the African Court of Justice and Human Rights Not party

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

Law enforcement in Burkina Faso is shared between the gendarmerie and the municipal police. 

The use of firearms is regulated by the 2003 Law on Internal Security. This allows the use of firearms:

  • when serious and generalized violence or assault is engaged against them
  • when they are threatened by armed individuals
  • where they can not otherwise defend the land they occupy, protect the installations, tasks or the people entrusted to them; or 
  • if the resistance is such that it can not be defeated other than by force of arms.Art. 13, 2003 Law on Internal Security.

This is more permissive than international law allows.

Article 132(3) of the 2018 Penal Code stipulates that a person will not be held criminally responsible if he or she

in the face of a present or imminent danger that threatens himself or another person or property, performs an act necessary to safeguard the person or property, unless there is a disproportion between the means employed and the severity of the threat.

In January 2019, the Burkina Faso Parliament extended a state of emergency in the north of the country by six months after attacks by Islamist militants. To combat terrorism, the government has created special police and gendarmerie units. In early February 2019, five Burkina Faso gendarmes were reportedly killed in a "terrorist" attack at Oursi in the Sahel region in the country’s north in what the armed forces said was a response to operations it had carried out the previous day in which 146 “terrorists” were killed.

Police Oversight

There is no independent civilian police oversight body in Burkina Faso.



Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

In its 2019 Concluding Observations on Burkina Faso, the Committee against Torture stated it remained "concerned about allegations of torture and ill-treatment of individuals by the police or gendarmerie during their arrest, transport, custody and interrogation, with the aim of extracting confessions from them". In 2014, the Committee had called on Burkina Faso to:

Make police and gendarmerie officers aware of the absolute prohibition of torture and of the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.

The Committee has also raised concerns about the creation by decree of armed civilian “self-defence” groups, known as “Koglweogo”, which may even carry out arrests and which have been accused of killings and torture.Decree No. 2016-1052.

In its 2016 Concluding Observations on Burkina Faso, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern 

about allegations of torture and ill-treatment inflicted by law enforcement officials, members of the armed forces and prison officers, including at the Wemtenga regional headquarters of the criminal investigation police.


In its latest state report on its implementation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, Burkina Faso stated that: "In the specific case of the late Justin Zongo, a school pupil, the Criminal Division of the Ouagadougou Appeals Court, in its ruling of 22 August, 2011, handed down sentences to three policemen who had been found guilty of the crime. One was given a ten-year term of imprisonment, while the two others were sentenced to eight years each. "


1991 Constitution of Burkina Faso (as amended)

Code pénal de Burkina Faso (2018)

Code de procédure pénale (2017)

Loi sur la Sécurité Interieure de Burkina Faso (2003)

Human Rights Committee Concluding Observations on Burkina Faso (2016)

Committee against Torture Concluding Observations on Burkina Faso (2019)

Committee against Torture Concluding Observations on Burkina Faso (2014)

Burkina Faso state report on implementation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (2015)