Burkina Faso

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Part 1: Political and Human Rights Conditions

Burkina Faso is a parliamentary republic. In 2005 President Blaise Compaore was reelected to a third term with 80 percent of the vote in an election that observers characterized as generally free, despite minor irregularities, but not entirely fair due to the ruling party's control of official resources. The election included the participation of significant numbers of opposition candidates. The president, assisted by members of his party, the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), continues to dominate the government. The National Assembly is controlled by CDP members. Human rights problems include use of excessive force against civilians, criminal suspects, and detainees; arbitrary arrest and detention; abuse of prisoners and harsh prison conditions; official impunity; judicial inefficiency and lack of independence; occasional restrictions on freedom of the press and assembly; corruption; abuse of women and children including female genital mutilation; trafficking in persons; and discrimination against persons with disabilities.

Part 2: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The U.S. strategy for promoting democracy and human rights in the country focuses on improving democratic processes in advance of the next round of presidential and parliamentary elections in 2010 and 2011, with a long-term view to the 2015 presidential election. This includes building the capacity of political parties and female political leadership. Strengthening the media and increasing press freedom are also priority areas. Additional areas of concentration include combating corruption, ensuring religious freedom, and rehabilitating victims of and eliminating trafficking in persons and exploitive child labor, particularly in the mining sector.

Part 3: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

The U.S. Government encourages the strengthening of democratic processes in advance of the 2010 and 2011 elections using a variety of diplomatic and programmatic tools. For example, U.S. officials speak with both political opposition and CDP representatives throughout the country to encourage democratic participation, interparty dialogue, and peaceful democratic processes. The U.S. Government funded one youth association to build the capacity of young people to effectively participate in the democratic process. The United States also provided funding to increase the capacity of women to be leaders in their political organizations and to strengthen political parties. The U.S. funds a regional project to eliminate exploitive child labor in the mining sector.

To promote freedom of speech and of the media, the U.S. Government provides media professionals with opportunities to exchange ideas with their international counterparts. The U.S. Government hosted monthly roundtable discussions with local journalists, and U.S. officials participated regularly in interviews on the importance of democratic elections and political campaign structures during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign. In March 2008 the United States arranged and funded communication training for Burkinabe journalists and government spokespersons. The United States sponsored journalists and professionals in the areas of democracy, good governance, interfaith dialogue, freedom of the press, and judicial administration to visit the United States to meet with American and international members of civil society in their respective professions. The U.S. Government also hosted conferences in 2008 on nonviolent conflict resolution, freedom of speech, democratic institution building, elections, civil-military relations, women's rights, and the role of the media in promoting peace and democracy. Other outreach initiatives included film showings linked to freedom of the press, tolerance, and women's rights, as well as organized debates on electoral systems and Internet training for female political leaders, national assembly staff, and government officials.

The U.S. Government works to expand respect for the rule of law by encouraging professionalism in the country's armed forces. Seven individuals received military education in the United States. The United States also trained military personnel and civilians on maintaining civilian control of the military and on issues associated with peacekeeping operations, such as UN doctrines and rules of engagement during peacekeeping. The U.S. Government funded the training and equipping of three Burkinabe peacekeeping battalions in order to facilitate their future deployment to Darfur. The country continues to participate in U.S.-supported military cooperation conferences, exercises, and seminars on subjects such as the role of the military in a democracy and the concerns of decision-makers participating in and planning for peacekeeping operations.