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Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights reviews the initial report of Burkina Faso

Committee on Economic, Social 
  and Cultural Rights 

10 June 2016

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights today concluded its consideration of the initial report of Burkina Faso on its implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Introducing the report, Bessolé René Bagoro, Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Civic Affairs of Burkina Faso, said that the implementation of the Covenant, which Burkina Faso had ratified in 1999, had been hampered by the popular uprising in 2014 and the attempted coup d’état in 2015.  The recent Presidential, legislative and municipal elections, however, would allow for the gradual return to order and the effective enjoyment of rights.  Economic, social and cultural rights were anchored in the Constitution.  To ensure their implementation in practice, an adequate legislative and policy framework had been adopted, including on universal health coverage, education, employment, social protection and mining.  Gender had been given constitutional rank in 2012 and a solid legal framework had been put in place to combat gender-based discrimination and eliminate gender inequality.  The 2000 Strategy to Combat Poverty and the 2010 Strategy for Accelerated Growth and Sustainable Development improved food security, health and nutrition of the population and reduced poverty from 46.7 per cent in 2009 to 40.1 per cent in 2014.  Basic public education was compulsory and free of charge which increased primary enrolment rates, but the challenge remained in increasing access to secondary and higher education, which was key to socio-economic transformation and development.

In the discussion that followed, Committee Experts welcomed the rich legislative activity in Burkina Faso and the inclusion in the Constitution of the rights enshrined in the Covenant.  The country had experienced intense economic development since 2008, largely due to mining activities, but there was concern about the impact of these activities on human rights, particularly on small-holding farmers whose land was being expropriated without consent and without compensation.  Experts noted important gaps between the legal and policy framework and the situation on the ground of the effective enjoyment of rights by the population; this was particularly true for women, who suffered violence, discrimination and inequality in various walks of life.  Experts were particularly concerned about the widespread practice of early and child marriages and the impact of polygamy on the effective enjoyment of women’s rights.  Illicit financial flows sapped the potential of Burkina Faso to ensure the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights: from 2008 to 2011 those flows were higher than the direct investment in education and equalled the investment in health.  With regard to employment and work, Experts noted that most of the newly created jobs were precarious and short-term which did not allow young people to start building their labour and social security rights.  Some 73 per cent of all the workers – mainly women – worked in the informal sector, and did not enjoy even a minimum of social security protection.

Clement Atangana, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for the report of Burkina Faso, said in his concluding remarks that the Committee’s concluding observations would highlight the positive aspects of the dialogue as well as concerns, and expressed hope that the learning from this process would assist Burkina Faso in better discharging its obligations under the Covenant.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Bagoro said that the delegation had gained a great deal of experience as a result of the dialogue, which would help Burkina Faso to give economic, social and cultural rights the place they deserved.  Burkina Faso would carefully examine the Committee’s concerns and integrate the suggestions on the way forward.

Concluding the meeting, Mikel Mancisidor De La Fuente, Committee Vice-Chairperson, recalled that the concluding observations were a useful tool to guide the policy and response of the State party, and should be disseminated throughout the country.

The delegation of Burkina Faso consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Human Rights and Civic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Burkinabe Abroad, Ministry of Arts, Tourism and Culture, Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Protection, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Water Resources, Ministry of Water and Sanitation, Ministry of National Education and Literacy, Ministry of Health, Ministry for Environment, Green Economy and Climate Change, and the Permanent Mission of Burkina Faso to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will next meet in public at 10 a.m. on Monday, 13 June to hear from national human rights institutions and civil society organizations from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Angola and the United Kingdom, whose reports the Committee will review next week. 

The country reviews can be watched via live webcast at http://www.treatybodywebcast.org.


The initial report of Burkina Faso can be read via the following link: E/C.12/BFA/1

Presentation of the Report

BESSOLE RENE BAGORO, Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Civic Affairs of Burkina Faso, introducing the report, said that Burkina Faso had ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on 4 January 1999 and had signed the Optional Protocol in 2012.  Burkina Faso had suffered the popular uprising in 2014 and the attempted coup d’état in 2015, which strongly shook up the economy and hampered the implementation of the provisions of the Covenant.  The Presidential and legislative elections of November 2015 and the municipal elections of May 2016 would allow for the gradual return to order, restarting of the economy and the effective enjoyment of rights.  Economic, social and cultural rights were anchored in the Constitution and laws had been enacted to ensure their implementation in practice, including on mining, universal health coverage, general status of the civil service and on private tenancy agreements.  In addition, adequate policy frameworks had been adopted in relation to health, education, employment, women’s rights, social protection, and mining, while the National Programme for Economic and Social Development was being adopted.  The institutions in charge of monitoring the implementation of obligations under the Covenant included the National Assembly, National Commission for Human Rights, Economic and Social Council, Council of Ministers, Inter-ministerial Committee on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the Ministry of Human Rights.  A solid legal framework had been put in place to combat gender-based discrimination, and in order to push forward gender mainstreaming in legislation, policies and programmes, gender had been given a constitutional rank in 2012.  The final aim was the elimination of gender inequalities.  Burkina Faso had taken positive action to promote the status of women and girls and improve the situation of their economic, social and cultural rights, including reducing the gap in school enrolment and attendance between girls and boys.  Gender equality was enshrined in law and article 19 of the Constitution prohibited discrimination between women and men in employment and pay, and this principle was enshrined in laws on land and agrarian reform, and in personal and family laws. 

The National Employment Policy had been adopted, together with the creation of a one-stop-shop to facilitate its operations.  In addition, several funds had been set up to promote small and medium enterprises and to promote the employment of youth.  Measures had been taken to improve the situation of the elderly, especially pensioners who could now benefit from basic health care services, small short-term loans and free annual health check-up.  In the area of work, laws had been adopted which regulated the minimum wage, working hours, annual leave, occupational health, while harassment in the workplace was prohibited.  The situation of asylum seekers was governed by the Law on the Status of Refugees, under which they had the same rights and duties as nationals without any discrimination.  Migrants were protected by the provisions of the Civil Code, Labour Code and the Family and Personal Code.  The results of the continued multi-sectoral survey of 2014 revealed that 40.1 per cent of the population lived below poverty line, compared to 46.7 per cent in 2009.  The Strategy to Combat Poverty had been adopted in 2000.  In 2010, the Government adopted the Strategy for Accelerated Growth and Sustainable Development, which allowed for improvement in food security, nutrition, health, education, access to clean water, sanitation and housing.  The implementation of the National Health Policy improved the provision of health services; since April 2016, women had free access to cervical and breast cancer screening, delivery including caesarean, and prenatal services, while children under the age of five enjoyed free health care.  Burkina Faso had adopted the principle of a free and obligatory primary education and a number of measures had been adopted to increase access to secondary and higher education.  Primary school enrolment rates had increased; however, the real challenge was the education of all children in order to ensure socio-economic transformations that were indispensable for development.

Questions by the Committee Experts

CLEMENT ATANGANA, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for the report of Burkina Faso, said the Committee recognized that the popular uprising had delayed the submission of the report and asked what other obstacles had been faced in this process.  Mr. Atangana welcomed the rich legislative activity in Burkina Faso and the adoption of numerous laws, including on the labour code and the social system.  In terms of the applicability of the Covenant, the Rapporteur noted that the rights enshrined in the Covenant were also enshrined in the Constitution.  It covered the totality of rights but only spoke of those rights in general terms and did not use specific language such as the right to food, housing and others.  Furthermore, the Covenant rights could be directly invoked before the courts, and the delegation was asked to provide specific information about the cases and also to inform which economic, social and cultural rights were justiciable directly, and which needed to be given life via national legislation.  Burkina Faso had signed the Optional Protocol but was not yet a party; what stood in the way of the ratification?  Burkina Faso had experienced intense economic development since 2008, largely due to mining activities, but there was concern about the impact of these activities on human rights, particularly because of the expropriation of agricultural land at the detriment of small-holding farmers whose land was being taken away without consent and without compensation.

The laws on agrarian land reform guaranteed access to land for all, but women held very few land deeds: out of 765 deeds, only 67 deeds were in women’s names.  What was the impact of the national land tenure on women?  The reform of the legal framework was ongoing, and the aim was to eradicate discrimination against women: what was the time frame for its completion?  The delegation was asked about the place of economic, social and cultural rights in the remit of the National Human Rights Commission, how those rights would be included in the new Constitution, which was currently being drafted, and what structure would be put in place to ensure justiciability of those rights.

Burkina Faso suffered from illicit financial flows which sapped the potential of the country to ensure the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights.  According to some reports, those flows during the 2008-2011 period equated to more than direct investment in education and equalled direct health expenditure by the State.  What strategies were in place to combat corruption and illicit forms of financing?

In connection with de facto gender equality, it was noted that the law in principle provided for monogamy marriage, but polygamy might be permitted provided that women’s fundamental rights were ensured.  Could the delegation explain this?  The planned reform of the Marriage Law focused only on registered marriages, leaving aside traditional and non-registered ones, which were the great majority of marriages in the country.  Also, while reforming the Marriage Code, Burkina Faso should equalize the age of marriage for women and men, which right now stood at 17 for girls and 21 for boys.

There were many structures which dealt with human rights, but a comprehensive and cohesive human rights plan was not in place.  Would Burkina Faso consider putting in place such a plan, which would also include concluding observations of this and other Committees, as well as recommendations by other international human rights bodies?  Also, was there a coordination platform in place for all the institutions with a mandate for the promotion and protection of human rights?

What steps were being taken to ensure the full integration into society of persons with albinism and protect them from violence and discrimination? 

Despite the many programmes for job creation, most of the jobs were temporary, precarious and short-term which did not allow young people to start building their labour and social security rights.  An overwhelming majority of workers were in the informal sector, some 73 per cent, and most were women, and this meant no sick leave, no minimum wage, no maternal leave, no retirement, etc.  Was there a possibility for Burkina Faso to extend a minimum of social security protection to informal sector workers?  What special measures were in place to support and protect agricultural workers?

With regard to employment and the right to work, the delegation was asked to explain unemployment figures, especially in light of the rapid economic growth of the country since 2008, which stood at some five per cent per annum, access to remedies for unfair dismissal for various sectors, and the level of unionisation per sector and overall bargaining procedures.  The article of the Constitution on the right to work specifically prohibited discrimination in the matter of employment and pay, but the prohibited grounds for discrimination differed from the article which provided prohibited grounds for discrimination in general; where was this inconsistency coming from?

Replies by the Delegation

Responding to the questions on the Constitutional order, the delegation explained that in order to ensure the full independence of the Constitutional Council of Burkina Faso, a reform was being undertaken to address the issue of composition and the nomination of the President of the Council who would be appointed by his or her peers and not by the President of the Republic.  In the same vein, the Constitutional Court was given the freedom to seize itself on issues of cases, rather than to wait for someone else to do so, which increased its independence; the Court could assess the constitutionality of any legal instrument.  The review process underway could offer the possibility of discussing the prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Constitution, and the large issue of the integration of economic, social and cultural rights.

The Ombudsman was appointed for a period of five years without the possibility of renewal, which ensured the independence of the institution.  The National Human Rights Commission had been accorded B status initially but had then been downgraded because the text governing it did not conform to international standards.  A law – which was one of the first ones presented by the new Ministry of Justice and Human Rights – had been adopted; it revised the text and brought it in line with international standards in this regard.  There were isolated cases of discrimination against albinos, but there was no systematic discrimination against them as a social group.

Explaining polygamy, the head of the delegation recalled that this was the Committee which discussed economic, social and cultural rights and this issue was in the realm of the culture of the country.  Mr. Bagoro also recalled the principle of the universality of human rights and stressed that the option of polygamy was not contrary to the notion of women’s rights, which also must be viewed through the lens of cultural rights.  The new law on marriage would raise the age of marriage for girls to 18 years; the age of marriage for men was 21.  The law would also be applicable to customary and traditional marriages, with a particular aim of clamping down on early marriages.

With regard to questions on forced evictions of farmers from land granted to mining companies, the head of the delegation stressed that this had not been an arbitrary action; the population on this pastoral land had been asked to leave several times, and they had been removed following a court ruling in this regard.

In terms of the coordination of various institutions with the mandate for oversight or promotion and protection of human rights, the delegation explained that a Secretariat had been set up within the Ministry of Justice, Human Rights and Civic Affairs, with the mandate to coordinate.

No official complaints had been lodged so far for discrimination against migrant workers, or non-national workers, whose equal rights were guaranteed in the Labour Code.  It was difficult for the State to truly provide assistance and find employment for all those who needed it, so Burkina Faso strongly encouraged self-employment, and job creation by companies.  The majority of economic activities were conducted in urban areas and the unemployment rate was higher in rural than in urban areas.  It was really difficult to get an accurate picture of the informal sector and to put in place any sort of monitoring mechanism.  The bargaining system in Burkina Faso was a tri-partite system in which the State, workers and employers participated.  A voluntary insurance system for social protection was in place, so anyone in the informal sector could sign up.

Mining was a new sector in Burkina Faso which did not have experience like other more established countries, so it learned from them, particularly in the domain of building the relationship between the population and mining companies.  Mining legislation was in place, and it required all mining companies to assess the environmental and social impact of their mining activities, on the basis of which authorisation was or was not granted.  The authorisation also included a certain number of recommendations to the mining company which the State would follow up.  There was an intention to develop an environmental management plan, under which compensation would be provided.

Questions by the Committee Experts

The New Alliance on Nutrition and Food Security, an initiative of the G-8, was being implemented in the country as a part of Burkina Faso’s commitment to the Africa Agriculture Development Programme.  A Committee Expert expressed concern about the phenomenon of land grabbing and asked what measures were in place to protect farmers who did not have deeds to their land.  The law encouraged the use of agricultural land and growing crops, it gave the possibility of fining the owners of land in rural areas which was not being farmed, and even the possibility of expropriating such land.  How was this law being implemented in practice?  What was the intention of Burkina Faso in terms of putting in place the legal framework to safeguard the right to food in line with General Comment 12 of 1999?

The Constitutional Court had the duty to assess the constitutionality and conventionality of human rights treaties, which was a tremendous task given the number of treaties Burkina Faso was a party to; a Committee Expert asked whether all human rights treaties ranked the same, or if some among them were accorded a higher status, as was the case in some other countries, for example Colombia; knowing this would facilitate this assessment.  The Expert expressed scepticism about the explanation given concerning the interlinkages between culture, polygamy and women’s rights, noting that 47 per cent of women without education were in polygamous marriages compared to 12 per cent of those with secondary or further education.  Burkina Faso had made important progress in reducing maternal morbidity and mortality, but access to contraceptives was marred with significant socio-economic inequalities: only seven per cent of poor women had access, compared to 40 per cent of women of higher socio-economic status.  What strategies were in place to ensure more equal access to contraceptives?

The Committee welcomed the prohibition of child marriage and the programme against early marriage.  However, forced and early marriages were still practiced and thousands of children were forced to marry every year.  In general, child and early marriages were often followed by early pregnancies, with childbirth being the second killer of girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide.

Culture changed countries, societies and generations over time and it was not possible to speak about one prevailing culture.  Cultural and patriarchal attitudes which violated women’s rights must be changed.  Women and girls suffered because of lack of availability, high cost and lack of appropriate information on family planning.  There was no reproductive health education in schools or health clinics, which would enable women to control and time pregnancies and prevent unwanted pregnancies.  How was it possible that Burkina Faso provided free screening for breast and cervical cancer and yet did not provide something as essential as contraceptives?

The delegation was asked to provide up-to-date statistics on poverty reduction actions given that the data contained in the report was from 2009.  How was the funding for the
Sectoral Education and Training Plan 2012-2021 being used and what were the objectives of the Plan.  The Expert asked the delegation to provide information on the decade-long plan to provide quality universal primary education and early childhood education.

Concerning the right to education, an Expert noted that Burkina Faso had taken important steps in recent years to increase access to education, particularly in closing the gender and regional inequalities in access.  Challenges remained in the secondary education, where enrolment rates were still rather low, particularly for girls: 16 per cent of boys were in secondary school and only 10 per cent of girls.  What strategies were in place to address the issue?  What strategies were being adopted to increase coverage for pre-primary education, particularly in rural areas, considering the crucial importance of this level of education in building life skills?

CLEMENT ATANGANA, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for Burkina Faso, in follow-up questions asked about steps undertaken toward the ratification of the Optional Protocol, which category of rights could not be invoked in courts as yet, about specific measures to combat child labour and prevent children from engaging in artisanal mining, and whether the monetary fines alone were sufficient to dissuade the perpetrators of violence against women. 

Another Expert asked for additional and more specific information about increasing access to the Internet for the people of Burkina Faso.

Replies by the Delegation

Responding to Experts’ follow-up questions, the head of the delegation addressed the linkages between culture and polygamy and agreed that cultures were dynamic and changed, but the attitudes at the grassroots level must be considered too.  When the Personal and Family Code of Burkina Faso had been adopted, it had been considered the most progressive in the region; the Code had been based on the consensus, and the Government wished to ensure the consensus in the ongoing revision of the Code.  Burkina Faso had gone through a number of ups and downs, but it had embarked on the process of ratification of the Optional Protocol to which the Government was committed; the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights was spearheading the process. 

The country had embarked on the construction of 10,000 units of social housing, of which 3,000 had been completed so far.  As part of its policy, the Ministry of Housing had foreseen the building of 10,000 homes in Ouagadougou and 3,000 in another city.  The Housing Code allowed the participation of private sector operators in the construction of social housing.  The 2015 Private Tenancy Lease Act had set the maximum rent for social housing at eight per cent of the amount invested in the construction of housing units.

Measures to reduce infant and child mortality rates included regular and obligatory check-ups of children in all regions, treatment of diarrhoea, and deworming, while children above 36 months were targeted by campaigns to prevent seasonal malaria in collaboration with the World Health Organization.  The prevalence of acute malnutrition had exceeded 11.3 per cent in 2009 and had dropped to 8 per cent in 2014; rates of severe acute malnutrition had also been reduced.  Burkina Faso had adopted the Strategic Plan for the Survival of Young Children.  Various measures had been undertaken to reduce maternal mortality, including increasing the number of midwives, ensuring free of charge normal and caesarean delivery, free screening for cervical and breast cancer, treatment for obstetric fistula, and others. 

The contraceptive pill cost only 5 CFF, and national and local coverage of public advertising and information and awareness campaigns on family planning and contraceptive means and methods were being put in place.  Contraceptive methods ranged from oral contraceptives, emergency contraception, intrauterine devices, and others.  Women could access contraception without the consent of their partners; some 38 per cent of women used contraceptives which were available in family planning centres.  In 2014, Burkina Faso held the National Week for Family Planning, during which 90,000 people had been reached with information and awareness campaigns, and more than 50,000 persons had accessed various forms of contraception, including a significant proportion of first time users.

Early and forced marriages were prohibited by the law, but sadly were still practiced.  The ongoing reform of the Personal and Family Code would equalize traditional, customary and common definitions of marriage and also establish the age of marriage for both sexes at 18 years.  Preventive actions to eradicate the scourge of early and forced marriage must be put in place and that was why a directorate had been set up for the education of girls, which was responsible for informing and educating girls on violence against women and girls, including early and forced marriage.  Burkina Faso was convinced that the best strategy to eradicate this scourge was to ensure the universal education of girls. 

With regard to the lack of statistical data, the delegation explained that the National Statistics Institute had been established, but due to lack of capacity and resources – both human and financial - it would not be able to meet all demands related to data.

Since the ratification of the Covenant, several programmes had been put in place to ensure access to education and to reach by 2021 the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education.   Burkina Faso had received financial support from the World Partnership for Education which was being used in conjunction with funding of other partners and the State itself to develop access and quality of education at all levels though improving school infrastructure, training of teachers, improvement of school nutrition, promotion of inclusive education, and others.  Another objective was to strengthen the management capacity of basic schooling administration.  In 2015, the net enrolment rate had progressed to four per cent in pre-school, 83 per cent in primary and 44 per cent in secondary school.  Basic public primary education was free of charge and compulsory for all children of appropriate age.  Sex education in schools was a major challenge; in partnership with others, information campaigns on health and reproductive health had been rolled out in upper secondary schools, but this was not sustainable and the topic was now being included in regular school programmes on a pilot basis in selected schools at primary and secondary levels.  The level of funding for secondary and primary education was not the same, which was due to the fact that it was only primary education that was compulsory and free of charge; in 2016, basic education and secondary education were managed by the same Ministry

Under the Labour Code, pregnancy could not be a reason for dismissal.  Pregnant women were protected from work in positions which could harm their health or the health of the child; they enjoyed 14 weeks maternity leave, had costs of birth covered by social security and were entitled to one hour break for breastfeeding.

The phenomenon of child labour, despite the efforts undertaken, continued in the country; 1,631 children had been removed from work in mines, and several hundred had been sent back to school.  There were hundreds of small artisanal gold mines which made the monitoring of child labour very difficult.  Girls continued to be engaged in domestic work.  It had been noted that children who had been offered vocation training usually did not return to domestic work.  Some 1,500 persons had been reached with information campaigns on the danger of child labour.  The worst forms of child labour existed in the country.  Burkina Faso had ratified international and regional instruments in this regard, and had also set the minimum age for work in its Labour Code, while the Anti-Trafficking Act prohibited engaging children in the worst forms of labour.  There were several entities which were involved in combatting worst forms of child labour, including several ministries and civil society organizations.  A framework for protecting children was in place, which was disseminated to mining companies.  There were regular inspections of mining sites, children found in worst forms of labour were removed and illegal activities were prosecuted.

The delegation had explained the steps related to the environmental and social impact of their operations that mining companies must undertake before mining licences were granted.  After the license was issued, an environmental monitoring mechanism was put in place, there were unannounced spot-checks to mining sites, and those companies found in fault had to pay fines.  Burkina Faso had a public inquiry in 2014 which enabled the local people to understand the aim of mining companies and the system of compensation, which since then had been amended, particularly with regard to lost arable land.  Compensation was not financial, but mining companies had an obligation to swap the land and find other arable land to offer in exchange. 

The delegation explained that there were economic, social and cultural rights which were fully justiciable and those that were only partially justiciable in courts.  The right to property, the freedom to join a trade union, and cultural rights were fully justiciable, while partially justiciable were the right to work through its social conflict aspect, the right to food and the right to health; those rights required the adoption of administrative measures to make them fully justiciable.   All those difficulties could be tackled with the ratification of the Optional Protocol, which was an ongoing process.

A number of instruments punished and repressed violence against women, both through monetary fines and imprisonment.  The following crimes of violence against women carried prison sentence: abandonment of the family, female genital mutilation, and forced marriage, for example. 

Follow-up Questions by the Committee Experts

In follow-up questions and comments, the Experts remarked that the Mining Code defined the obligation of companies to contribute a certain percentage to the public budget and asked about the proportion of the national budget which in fact was financed by those contributions.  What was the complaint procedure and mechanism in place for people who felt their rights were violated by mining companies?  What steps was the Government taking to educate the population on polygamy and spur cultural and societal change?

Another Expert noted the significant gap between the legal and policy framework and the reality on the ground of the real enjoyment of rights.  This was particularly true for the practice of early marriages, and because the mechanism for registration of customary and traditional marriages was not in place, the extent of the practice and the number of marriages were not known.

The delegation was asked how farmers without a formal deed were protected from the expropriation of their land, and how the land used by investors was being cleaned up; it also requested information on the process and actors involved in the selection and nomination of the President and members of the National Human Rights Commission.

WALEED SADI, Committee Chairperson, noted the link between the lack of separate sanitation facilities in schools and drop-out rates of girls and asked the delegation to comment.

Replies by the Delegation

Responding to the questions and comments made by the Committee Experts, the delegation said that mining companies had to paid three types of taxes: the superficial taxes which were paid directly to the communes that were obliged to use one part to build community and healthcare infrastructure, and to transfer 15 per cent to the State budget, which was then used for national programmes.  One per cent of taxes paid by mining companies fed into a fund which was used for the development of communes which did not have mining activities.

The Constitutional Council was composed of three persons appointed by the President, three persons appointed by the National Assembly, three judges appointed on a proposal by the Ministry of Justice, and all former Heads of State. 

The National Human Rights Commission comprised nine members who were all appointed by elected bodies; there were no representatives from the administration.  A Presidential decree would then be issued to enshrine the appointment.  The process was the same for the appointment of members of the Electoral Commission.  The law which had established the National Human Rights Commission had been revised with the support of partners.

To enable the population to easily and anonymously report about female genital mutilation, a help line had been set up through the National Commission to Combat the Practice of Cutting and Excision.  The implementation of the law against female genital mutilation was a reality and over 100 cases of female genital mutilation had been punished and sanctioned since 2008.  Mobile courts had been established to educate the population, and hearings served the dual purpose of repression and awareness raising.

There were gender and regional disparities in access to education.  Socio-economic challenges, as well as attitudes of the society were the barriers to addressing gender disparity in education.  There were 43 communes which were far behind others; those communes were prioritized in interventions and would benefit from the construction of 126 classrooms.  Many measures had been taken to expand pre-school education, including the construction of new preschool classrooms across the country.

There were two complaint mechanisms which individuals could use to file complaints for the violation of their rights by mining companies.  The first was within the companies themselves which, under the terms of their mining licences, were obliged to set up Grievance Committees.  Those Committees were composed of representatives of companies and municipalities and they worked in a participative way to receive and address grievances.  If the appropriate remedy was not thus found, individuals could turn to State mechanisms and tools defined by the framework for regional mining which was chaired by Governors at the provincial level, and by prefects at the municipal levels.  A public inquiry system was in place to glean the opinion of the population concerning the planned mining activities.

The Law on the Universal Health System, or the Burkina Faso Universal Health Scheme covered everyone without distinction.  The State needed to ensure that everyone contributed to the system and had equal access to health.  Funds were being made available to informal sector workers to support entrepreneurship, particularly among women.  Fertilizers, improved seeds and other agricultural inputs were distributed to most vulnerable farmers via their communes.  The beneficiary list was drawn up in consultation between villagers and the Ministry of Agriculture.  The State was concerned with the support for family farms, which had in place various support programmes such as the 100,000 Ploughs Programme where ploughs were distributed to small-holding farmers to improve the production.  Sanitation coverage in rural areas was only 12 per cent.  Plans were being drawn up to ensure separate latrines in all secondary schools, while all newly constructed schools already had separate latrines for girls and boys.

Progress was being made in addressing harmful cultural prejudices and awareness raising activities were being undertaken in communities by several ministries.  The National Human Rights and Civic Affairs Programme 2013-2022 and its action plan were in place and contained various measures to ensure human rights education.  Under the Programme, a handbook had been prepared and tested in schools in two cities; it was expected that human rights education would be fully in place in primary and secondary schools within several years.

Young girls had the right to contraception without any authorisation and freely chose the method that suited them the best.  This applied to married women as well, although advertisements and promotion of family planning encouraged men to allow their wives to visit health services by themselves.

Concluding Remarks

CLEMENT ATANGANA, Member of the Committee and Rapporteur for the report of Burkina Faso, said that the Committee’s concluding observations would highlight the positive aspects of the dialogue as well as concerns.  The Country Rapporteur expressed hope that Burkina Faso would be able to better discharge its obligations under the Covenant thanks to what was learned during this process.

BESSOLE RENE BAGORO, Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Civic Affairs of Burkina Faso, said that the delegation gained a great deal of experience during this dialogue in which Burkina Faso tried to describe its socio-economic realities and the efforts made.  The exercise would help Burkina Faso to give economic, social and cultural rights the place they deserved.  Mr. Bagoro reiterated the commitment of Burkina Faso to examine the Committee’s concerns and integrate the suggestions on the way forward.

MIKEL MANCISIDOR DE LA FUENTE, Committee Vice-Chairperson, said that the Committee would adopt concluding observations on Burkina Faso on Friday 24 June and publish them on the Committee’s website on Monday 27 June.  The concluding observations were a useful tool to guide the policy and response of the State party, and should be disseminated throughout the country.

For use of the information media; not an official record
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