Sankara et al. v. Burkina Faso

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Relatives as Victims | Right to Know the Truth | Effective Remedy | Duty to Investigate | Admissibility | Statute of Limitations | Judicial Protection

Themes: Characteristics of the Crime | Related Crimes

The Committee found the communication admissible ratione temporis insofar as the violations resulting from the failure to conduct an inquiry, initiated before the Covenant and the Optional Protocol entered into force for the State, continued thereafter. The Committee found that the refusal to conduct an investigation into the death of the victim, the lack of official recognition of his place of burial and the failure to correct his death certificate constituted inhuman treatment of his family members. While confirming that the right to security applies even outside the context of formal deprivations of liberty, and therefore the State has to protect the personal security of non-detained persons within its jurisdiction, the Committee did not find a violation of the right to liberty and security based on the mere fact that the victim's relatives left the State out of fear after his death.

Judgment Date

March 28, 2006

Country

Burkina Faso

Judicial Body

Human Rights Committee

Articles violated

Article 7 [ICCPR], Article 14 [ICCPR]

Articles not violated / not dealt with

Article 9 [ICCPR], Article 26 [ICCPR]

Facts of the Case

Mr. Thomas Sankara, President of Burkina Faso, was killed in October 1987 during a coup d’état. Fearing for their safety, his wife and children left Burkina Faso shortly thereafter. In January 1988, a death certificate stating that he had died of natural causes was issued. Until 1997, the authorities did not conduct any inquiry into the killing. In September 1997 Mr. Sankara's wife lodged a complaint for the assassination of her husband and for the falsification of administrative documents. By the date of the submission, judicial investigations had not yet started due to a conflict of jurisdiction between ordinary and military courts.

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