UN rights office 'deeply disturbed' by reports of killing of large numbers of civilians in Burkina Faso

UN rights office 'deeply disturbed' by reports of killing of large numbers of civilians in Burkina Faso

'It is crucial that allegations of such serious violations and abuses by various actors are brought to light and that transitional authorities promptly undertake thorough, impartial and effective investigations,' says spokesperson

By Beyza Binnur Donmez

GENEVA (AA) - The UN human rights office on Friday expressed alarm over the reports of the killing of large numbers of civilians in Burkina Faso, urging an investigation on allegations.

"We are deeply disturbed by reports of the killing of large numbers of civilians, including children, in several villages in the Yatenga and Soum provinces in northern Burkina Faso in recent months in an overall context of fighting between armed groups and Burkinabe forces," spokesperson Marta Hurtado said in a statement.

Stressing that the office has not been able to independently verify these reports due to lack of access, Hurtado said: "It is crucial that allegations of such serious violations and abuses by various actors are brought to light and that the transitional authorities promptly undertake thorough, impartial and effective investigations."

She urged accountability for perpetrators and added that fighting impunity and pursuing accountability is "paramount" to ensure people trust in the rule of law and social cohesion.

"We are also concerned by the temporary suspension of at least two international media outlets following their reports on some of these incidents," she said. "Restrictions on media freedom and civic space must stop immediately. Freedom of expression including the right of access to information is crucial in any society, and even more so in the context of the transition in Burkina Faso," Hurtado said.

At least 223 civilians, including at least 56 children, were massacred by Burkina Faso's military in a single day this February, in apparent revenge attacks, Human Rights Watch said in a new report.

It said the killings could have been part of a widespread military campaign against civilians accused of collaborating with armed groups.

The landlocked African country witnessed two coups in 2022, first in January and then in September.

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