The African Court for Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) Friday ordered the government of Burkina Faso to resume investigations into the murder of investigative reporter Norbert Zongo and his three companions in 1998 and try the perpetrators.
The government of Burkina Faso was also ordered to pay moral damages to the families of the victims of over 1 million dollars.
In an earlier decision made on March 28, 2014, ACHPR had ruled that the Burkina government had “failed in its obligations” by not bringing to justice the killers of Norbert Zongo, assassinated while investigating the death of the driver of ousted President Blaise Compaoré’s brother François.
The court also gave a deadline to the applicants to submit their request for reparations. The case was brought on behalf of the wife and children of Mr. Zongo and of the Burkinabe League for Human and Peoples’ Rights.
In Friday’s decision, the judges ordered the respondent state to take over the investigations in order to probe, prosecute and try those found responsible.
The state of Burkina Faso must also publish, within six months from the date of the judgment, “the French summary of this judgment prepared by the clerk once in the official gazette and once in a widely disseminated national newspaper daily and on the government’s official website for a year.”
The eleven judges also ordered the Burkinabe government to pay CFA 25 million to each of the victims’ spouses, CFA 15 million to each of their children and CFA 10 million to each of their mothers.
The Burkina Faso government shall also pay the lawyer’s fees of the applicant assessed at about $5,000.
Finally, the court ordered Burkina Faso to “submit within a period of six months a report on the state of implementation of all decisions taken in the present judgment.”
In 1998, investigative reporter and editor of the weekly L’Indépendant, Norbert Zongo and his three companions were found burnt to death in their car about a hundred kilometers from Ouagadougou.
He was then investigating the mysterious death of David Ouédraogo, the driver of Francois , a brother to ousted President Blaise Compaoré.
Zongo’s death had sparked a scandal and major mass demonstrations in Burkina Faso and left an international impact.
Six suspects had been identified by an independent commission of inquiry set up by the Burkinabe authorities, but only former President Compaoré’s chief bodyguard, Warrant Officer, Marcel Kafando, was charged before he was eventually cleared of all charges.
In 2006, the Burkinabe justice system had closed the file on the case, ostensibly for lack of evidence.
ACHPR can order a state to make appropriate measures to end violations of human rights and or pay compensation or financial reparations.
Its judgments are not subject to appeal.
The family of Zongo and the Burkinabe Human Rights League were together represented by Nigerian lawyer, Chidi Odinkalu; Senegalese lawyer, Ibrahima Kane; and leading Burkinabe lawyer, Sankara Benewende.
Copyright: © APA
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