A number of rights awareness campaigns have been conducted in Ouagadougou and surrounding areas in Burkina Faso since July 2017. The rights awareness program is part of IBJ’s project in Francophone Africa, supported by Global Affairs Canada. The campaigns were conducted by a fantastic team in Burkina Faso, headed by Zénabou Kadidia Salia.
The right awareness campaigns took place a following a legal needs assessment that reviewed the implementation of the criminal justice system in Burkina Faso. It was identified that in many cases, people were unaware of their rights and what constitutes as a human rights violation. The goal of the awareness campaigns was therefore to educate citizens on their rights.
A number of radio campaigns were held on Radio Omega and Liberté Radio, considered to be the two most listened to radio stations in Burkina. The broadcasts covered two topics, ‘Respecting Human Rights in the Burkina criminal procedure,’ and ‘Local self-defense groups and Human Rights in Burkina Faso’, an important subject regarding the socio-politico context and the creation of self-defense groups. It is estimated that 2.2 million people were reached directly and indirectly through these campaigns, given the popularity of the radio stations.
The team in Burkina Faso then organized a panel to take place on 25th November 2017 at the Universtité Ouaga I Pr Joseph Ki Zerbo, to discuss legal aid in Burkina Faso and the right to a lawyer. Members of the panel included Maitre Benao Batibié, lawyer and Secretary General of the lawyer association in Burkina Faso, and Mister Ramde Sidiki, Magistrate and representative of the General Direction of the Legal Aid Fund. The panel reiterated the importance of legal aid and why people should have access to a lawyer, quoting various national and international laws. The panel also discussed the importance of defending ordinary citizens and about the funds available to provide legal aid to indigent citizens. . The audience was invited to pose questions and interact in discussions with panel members.
The awareness campaigns were a huge success, ensuring that the population of Ouagadougou and its surrounding communities are better informed of their rights in terms of legal aid, the right to a lawyer, self-defense groups and their fundamental human rights.