Human Rights Council
Divine Savior Holy Angels
Burkina Faso has experienced the issue of journalist’s rights to a minimal extent over the course of our time as a sovereign nation, independent of France. Most notably, Burkina Faso enjoys a virtually free press in times of domestic peace. Burkinabe legislation and the constitution outline an emphasis on the freedoms of the press. The Article 8 of the Burkinabe constitution covers freedom of speech, which includes freedom of the media. According to Amnesty International, our press enjoys an almost unlimited amount of freedom when reporting on international or national issues. Burkina Faso has had no reports of a restricted press since the full of Blaise Compaore and the government has made strides toward transparency since.
It is the opinion of the sovereign nation of Burkina Faso that the censorship of media and restrictions on journalists can sometimes be necessary in maintaining peace within a country. For example, the most recent incident of media restriction in Burkina Faso occurred during the revolution to remove Blaise Compaore from office. Several journalists were temporarily detained and limited in their reporting. This case has not been a priority for the interim government to assess and has gone uninvestigated. While Burkina Faso has only had one incident of alleged murder of a journalist, the issue of media rights is pertinent in this transition period of Burkinabe government. Burkina Faso was ordered at the end of the Lohe Issa Konate v. Burkina Faso case, by the African Union, to amend a law regarding punishment for defamation of the government by journalists. In keeping with the ECOWAS Treaty, Burkina Faso has amended the law “to ensure respect for the rights of journalists;” in order to eliminate fines and jail time for reporting journalists. 1 Burkina Faso ‘s government also created the Independent Commission of Inquiry following the death of Norbert Zongo in 1990, an investigative reporter for a national newspaper.2 The committee yielded no convictions. Burkina Faso maintains the right to temporarily ban reporters with false information or who are threats to national security, but on the most part does not interfere in media relations. According to Freedom House, “ the media are generally free of overt censorship” in Burkina Faso.3
The Burkinabe delegation suggests the UNHRC expand and emphasize the issue of journalists’ rights. When media becomes unrestricted in a country, corruption is exposed and brought to public attention. In a step towards purging the Burkinabe government of corruption and external influences, the delegation of Burkina Faso would like to suggest a resolution outlining specific parameters for what free press entitles. Putting exact specifications on what an unrestricted press would look like in any country would be a step toward creation an international, uniform free press. Additionally, specifying a committee to rank the levels of freedom the press has in all countries could result in a more comprehensive view of countries with unrestricted press against those without. The Burkinabe delegation eagerly awaits the opportunity to speak on this important issue.
Human Rights Council
Divine Savior Holy Angels
Rights of Suspected Disease Victims
The issue of rights of suspected disease victims holds a place of high importance in Burkina Faso, as 114,500 civilians in our civilian population suffer from HIV/AIDs and Ebola remains a threaten in Sub-Sahara Africa.4 No Burkinabe legislation currently exists regarding the rights of suspected disease victims. The agrarian and poverty stricken nature of Burkina Faso severely limits the access to hospitals and belief in modern medical treatment. Medical treatment usually center on witch doctors and traditional treatments. This lack of medical knowledge results in the Burkinabe government allowing business and communities to discriminate against victims of HIV/AIDs with few restrictions.
Different diseases warrant diverse societal treatment in Burkina Faso. Societal discrimination against people with HIV/AIDs is currently an issue in Burkina Faso. Many victims are shunned by their families after being diagnosed. Often women are removed from their homes, but the men are not. The disease on the whole is associated with being sexually unclean. Business owners can refuse home rental or lodging to people they suspect of having HIV/AIDs. By contrast, victims generally not discriminated against in the workplace. Beginning in January of 2010 and continuing to present day, the Burkinabe government started the distribution of free medication for victims of HIV/AIDs.5 This marks a step in moving toward acceptance of victims of the disease. According to WHO, Burkina Faso at risk for Ebola, but has not actually had reported cases within the country.6 Therefore there are no cases of treatment of suspected disease victims in Burkina Faso. Based on the treatment of victims of malaria in Burkina Faso, it could be predicted that Ebola cases would be quarantined and given access to medical care to the best of the government’s ability.
The Burkinabe delegation urges the HRC to establish a bill of rights for suspected victims of contagious diseases in the future. A comprehensive list of rights would ensure a better chance of survival and fair treatment of sufferers in the future. People who contract sexually transmitted diseases do not deserve the same sort of guaranteed rights, as it indicates unclean sexual intercourse. In keeping with the prevalent Islamic faith in Burkina Faso, the delegation will not advocate for the rights of those with STDs. The rights of those who merely contract a disease like Ebola should be standardized and protected by the United Nations. Due to the poverty-stricken nature of Burkina Faso, adequate medical care is rarely available, but those who suffer should be given the opportunity to access any forms accessible and given the opportunity for reintegration if they recover. Furthermore, the UN should provide a more comprehensive view of the rights of disease victims through the creation of a specific committee for tracking adherence to the bill of disease victims’ rights.