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UN Calls for ‘Impartial’ Probe after 28 Killed in Burkina Faso

At least 28 people were found dead in northwest Burkina Faso last month

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

BURKINA FASO: The head of the UN human rights office has called for a swift, transparent probe into the killings of at least 28 people who were found dead in northwest Burkina Faso last month.

Volker Türk, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, hailed the local government for announcing an investigation into the incident in Nouna town, which is home to a predominantly Muslim and ethnic Fulani community.

“I call on them to ensure it is prompt, thorough, impartial, and transparent, and to hold all those responsible to account regardless of position or rank,” Türk said on Saturday, adding that “the victims and their loved ones are owed no less.”

Regional human rights organisations claim that volunteer militias working with Burkina Faso’s army are responsible for the deaths of dozens of Fulani citizens, including children.

The Fulani people have come under increasing attack from the military and local defence militias because they are thought to be supporting the Islamic extremist rebels who have been wreaking devastation on the nation of West Africa for years.

The Volontaires pour la Defense de la patrie (VDP), a volunteer force formed to aid the army in its fight against jihadists, was allegedly responsible for the executions, according to the UN rights office’s local sources.

In a statement, they claimed that VDP members had invaded the town and killed 28 men, apparently in reprisal for an earlier attack on the group’s military base the previous night by suspected members of the Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), an organisation with ties to Al-Qaeda.

The VDP, which was set up in December 2019, is made up of civilian volunteers who undergo a two-week military training before working alongside the army, generally doing surveillance, information gathering, or escorting missions.

Burkina Faso, which is a landlocked west African nation, is one of the most volatile and poorest countries in the world.

It has been battling an insurgency since 2015 that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced close to two million people. The insurgency is being led by jihadists connected to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

Recent months have seen an uptick in attacks on civilians and security personnel, particularly in the northern and eastern areas bordering the jihadist-devastated nations of Mali and Niger.

Türk had previously raised concerns with the authorities about the potential abuses “connected to the recruitment, arming, and deployment of auxiliaries in Burkina Faso,” Saturday’s statement reads.

The “urgent need to strengthen their vetting procedures and pre-deployment training on international human rights and humanitarian law” was emphasized, the statement said.

It added that in order to ensure inclusiveness and transparency during their recruitment, “effective oversight by the security and defence forces” was also needed.

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  • Sadaf Hasan
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