Joint motion for a resolution - RC-B9-0261/2019Joint motion for a resolution

JOINT MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on violations of human rights including religious freedoms in Burkina Faso

18.12.2019 - (2019/2980(RSP))

pursuant to Rules 144(5) and 132(4) of the Rules of Procedure
replacing the following motions:
B9‑0261/2019 (ECR)
B9‑0264/2019 (Verts/ALE)
B9‑0265/2019 (S&D)
B9‑0269/2019 (Renew)
B9‑0270/2019 (PPE)

Michael Gahler, György Hölvényi, Peter van Dalen, Željana Zovko, Tomáš Zdechovský, Andrey Kovatchev, David McAllister, Antonio López‑Istúriz White, Sandra Kalniete, Isabel Benjumea Benjumea, Eva Maydell, Magdalena Adamowicz, Milan Zver, Roberta Metsola, Lefteris Christoforou, Loucas Fourlas, David Lega, Krzysztof Hetman, Inese Vaidere, Tomas Tobé, Romana Tomc, Seán Kelly, Arba Kokalari, Stelios Kympouropoulos, Vladimír Bilčík, Karlo Ressler, Michaela Šojdrová, Luděk Niedermayer, Maria Walsh, Ioan‑Rareş Bogdan, Gheorghe‑Vlad Nistor, Stanislav Polčák, Jiří Pospíšil, Ivan Štefanec, Michal Wiezik, Peter Pollák
on behalf of the PPE Group
Kati Piri, Maria Arena
on behalf of the S&D Group
Jan‑Christoph Oetjen, Atidzhe Alieva‑Veli, Abir Al‑Sahlani, Petras Auštrevičius, Malik Azmani, José Ramón Bauzá Díaz, Phil Bennion, Stéphane Bijoux, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Gilles Boyer, Sylvie Brunet, Olivier Chastel, Katalin Cseh, Jérémy Decerle, Anna Júlia Donáth, Engin Eroglu, Klemen Grošelj, Christophe Grudler, Bernard Guetta, Antony Hook, Ivars Ijabs, Moritz Körner, Ondřej Kovařík, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Nathalie Loiseau, Karen Melchior, Ulrike Müller, Javier Nart, Dragoş Pîslaru, Frédérique Ries, María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos, Monica Semedo, Susana Solís Pérez, Ramona Strugariu, Irène Tolleret, Yana Toom, Viktor Uspaskich, Hilde Vautmans, Marie‑Pierre Vedrenne, Irina Von Wiese, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou
on behalf of the Renew Group
Gina Dowding, Ellie Chowns
on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group
Anna Fotyga, Jan Zahradil, Karol Karski, Assita Kanko, Bert‑Jan Ruissen
on behalf of the ECR Group
Fabio Massimo Castaldo

Procedure : 2019/2980(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
Texts tabled :
Texts adopted :

European Parliament resolution on violations of human rights including religious freedoms in Burkina Faso


The European Parliament,

 having regard to the declaration of 10 December 2019 by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on behalf of the EU on Human Rights Day,

 having regard to the Commission press release of 13 November 2019 announcing an additional EUR 35 million in humanitarian aid for Africa’s Sahel region,

 having regard to the statement of 7 November 2019 by the Spokesperson of the VP/HR on the attacks in Burkina Faso,

 having regard to the visit of VP/HR Federica Mogherini to the Sahel region in July 2019, and to her speech of 9 July 2019 in Burkina Faso,

 having regard to the speech on behalf of VP/HR Federica Mogherini of 17 September 2019 at its plenary debate on the security situation in Burkina Faso,

 having regard to the study entitled ‘The Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Freedom of Expression’, published by its Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union on February 2009,

 having regard to the public hearing of its Subcommittee on Human Rights entitled ‘Freedom of Religion or Belief: the situation of persecuted minorities, notably Christians’, held on 22 November 2017,

 having regard to the report of the Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief of 21 November 2019 entitled ‘The mandate of the Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union: activities and recommendations’,

 having regard to the EU Guidelines for the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief of 2013,

 having regard to the Partnership Agreement between the Members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part (Cotonou Agreement),

 having regard to the statement attributable to the Spokesperson of the High-Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations of 1 December 2019 on the attack on a church in Burkina Faso,

 having regard to the UN Security Council report of 11 November 2019 on the Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel,

 having regard to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) country operation update of October 2019 on Burkina Faso,

 having regard to the statement of the UN Secretary-General of 13 October 2019 on the attack on a mosque in northern Burkina Faso,

 having regard to UNICEF Humanitarian Situation Report No 8 on Burkina Faso of October 2019,

 having regard to the Human Development Report 2019 on inequalities in human development in the 21st century, and in particular the human development report on Burkina Faso,

 having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948, of which Burkina Faso is a signatory,

 having regard to the United Nations Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites of 12 September 2019,

 having regard to the Constitution of the Republic of Burkina Faso,

 having regard to the statement issued by bishops, priests and secular delegates of episcopal conferences of Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Ivory Coast and Ghana, following the Inter-Conferences Workshop on Security in the Sahel of 12 and 13 November 2019,

 having regard to the statement of Bishop Laurent Birfuoré Dabiré of Dori speaking to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need on 5 July 2019,

 having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which was adopted on 27 June 1981 and entered into force on 21 October 1986,

 having regard to the Paris Peace Forum of 12 and 13 November 2019,

 having regard to Rules 144(5) and 132(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas Burkina Faso had a strong tradition of religious tolerance and secularism but has become vulnerable to instability – particularly as a result of Islamist radicalisation, which is plaguing the greater Sahel region – and is facing a combination of escalating violence, displacement, hunger, poverty and climate change;

B. whereas the growing insecurity in Burkina Faso has led to terrible crimes by both jihadists and other armed groups; whereas according to a Human Rights Watch report, these armed groups in Burkina Faso have executed suspected government collaborators, intimidated teachers and spread fear among civilians throughout the country; whereas Burkinabè security forces conducted counterterrorism operations in 2017 and 2018 that resulted in extrajudicial killings, abuse of suspects in custody and arbitrary arrests; whereas the Burkinabè Government promised to investigate these allegations;

C. whereas since 2015, jihadists and other armed groups that were previously active in neighbouring Mali have terrorised the Burkinabè population and committed a number of attacks against state symbols such as military targets, schools and healthcare facilities, but also in particular against churches and Christian worshippers; whereas since 2015, attacks by jihadists and other armed groups have killed at least 700 people and wounded thousands in Ouagadougou and the northern provinces, in particular Soum Province, and spread to the eastern and western provinces in 2018; whereas violence does not affect Christians exclusively; whereas on 11 October 2019, for example, a mosque in the town of Salmossi, in northern Burkina Faso, was attacked during Friday prayers;

D. whereas 520 security incidents were reported between January and November 2019 compared to 404 registered between 2015 and 2018; whereas in October 2019 alone, 52 incidents related to non-state armed groups were recorded, of which nearly 70 % targeted civilians and security forces;

E. whereas attacks have been committed both by transnational armed groups operating from across the Malian and Nigerien borders, including Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, and by domestic groups, primarily Ansarul Islam, that operate out of Burkina Faso’s northern and eastern provinces;

F. whereas in 2019, over 60 Christians were killed in Burkina Faso in multiple attacks, including the most recent attack of 1 December 2019 against worshippers attending a Sunday service at a Protestant church in the eastern town of Hantoukoura, which resulted in 14 deaths;

G. whereas a number of priests, clergymen and Christian worshippers have been victims of targeted assassinations and kidnappings throughout the country; whereas as a result of the increasing violence, many people, in particular in the north, have abandoned their traditional homes, such as most recently the villages of Hitté and Rounga, and fled to camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) or other parts of the country, including the capital Ouagadougou;

H. whereas Burkina Faso’s population is predominately Mālikī Sunni, with large Christian and indigenous religious minorities; whereas interreligious boundaries in Burkina Faso are fluid, as followers of all religions commonly engage in syncretic practices and religious tolerance is the norm; whereas both Sunni and Christian places of worship have recently been targets of guerrilla attacks by Salafi armed groups; whereas this has contributed to increased interreligious tensions, and whereas the persecution of religious communities, including people from a large number of Christian denominations, has resulted in the disruption of the social fabric and increased levels of emigration;

I. whereas jihadist groups want to put pressure on interfaith coexistence in Burkina Faso, as part of their broader strategy to foster interethnic and religious conflicts and displace the population;

J. whereas as a result of the lack of government protection, security measures have been recommended by Bishop Justin Kientega of the diocese of Ouahigouya in the northeast of Burkina Faso in order to better protect Christian worshippers;

K. whereas, as a result of the violence in August, Bishop Laurent Birfuoré Dabiré of Dori, President of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina Faso and Niger, called on the global community to increase their support for Christians in Burkina Faso in order to prevent ‘the elimination of the Christian presence’; whereas there have been repeated calls to denounce the threats of censorship and support continued interreligious dialogue;

L. whereas in his Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites, published on 12 September 2019, the UN Secretary-General stressed that houses of worship around the world must be safe havens for reflection and peace, not sites of bloodshed and terror, and people must be allowed to observe and practice their faith in peace;

M. whereas humanitarian organisations, many of which are faith-based, play a vital role in helping victims of violence, in particular women, children and IDPs;

N. whereas the Government of Burkina Faso seems to lack the capacity to effectively implement solutions to the enormous security, social and economic challenges in the country; whereas some regions, in particular in the northeast of the country, are effectively cut off from the central government;

O. whereas Burkina Faso ranks among the 10 poorest countries in the world; whereas instability, climate change and conflict in the country have further diminished economic opportunities, enhanced poverty and resulted in acute food shortages; whereas these consequences are compounded by the northern region’s rapid desertification and resulting water shortages, soil degradation and resource scarcity; whereas as a result, over 1 million people are at risk of food shortages and 1.5 million are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance;

P. whereas in 2014, the adult literacy rate was estimated to be 34.5 %; whereas increased insecurity and terrorism in certain regions of the country are having negative effects on the education and health sectors; whereas 85 health facilities and more than 2 000 schools have been forced to shut down, affecting respectively more than 1 million patients and 300 000 students; whereas 93 other health facilities are at their minimal operational level due to the current dire security situation;

Q. whereas the violence in Burkina Faso has led to the displacement of nearly half a million people; whereas many of them are vulnerable and children constitute 44 % of those displaced; whereas Burkina Faso hosts an additional 31 000 Malian refugees; whereas the UNHCR faces severe challenges in accessing IDPs and refugees in Burkina Faso; whereas IDPs and refugees affected by the humanitarian crisis in the region are exposed to protection risks and their presence may lead to conflict with the local population over scarce natural resources if no adequate measures are taken to provide housing, employment and food; whereas the resulting resource conflicts threaten to further contribute to the cycle of violence in the country;

R. whereas over the last seven years, the EU has mobilised more than EUR 1 billion for development programmes in Burkina Faso and has recently allocated EUR 15.7 million to tackle the major issue of food insecurity and malnutrition among IDPs; whereas the country is one of the main beneficiaries of financial support (EUR 628 million) from the European Development Fund (EDF) and also is also receiving substantial financial support (EUR 245.8 million) from the EDF-funded Emergency Trust Fund for the period 2016-2020;

S. whereas Burkina Faso participates in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) and the G5 Sahel; whereas its participation in these missions and initiatives has made the country a primary target for non-state armed groups seeking to disrupt and discourage Burkina Faso’s contribution to regional security; whereas a report by the UN Secretary-General has highlighted human rights violations committed by Malian troops from the G5 Sahel;

T. whereas the EU directly contributes to stability in the Sahel region through the civilian EUCAP SAHEL missions in Mali and Niger and through the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali), as well as indirectly through the participation of Member States in MINUSMA and Operation Barkhane; whereas the EU-supported G5 Sahel, a collaborative defence effort between Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, enhances the coordination of regional development and security to neutralise armed groups and diminish their attractiveness; whereas an attack on a military base in Tahoua, Niger, on 11 December 2019 killed 71 Nigerien soldiers and injured 12 in the deadliest single incident in the region since 2016;

U. whereas at a summit in Ouagadougou on 14 September 2019, the Economic Community Summit of West African States (ECOWAS) announced a plan worth USD 1 billion to combat rising insecurity in the Sahel region;

V. whereas the EU’s common foreign and security policy aims to develop and consolidate democracy and the rule of law, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;

1. Strongly condemns any form of violence, intimidation and kidnapping of civilians, aimed at security services, religious sites and worshippers in Burkina Faso, in particular violence targeting specific religious communities, and the political instrumentalisation and misuse of religion to legitimise the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities;

2. Extends its condolences to the families of the victims and the Government of Burkina Faso; expresses its solidarity with the Burkinabè people, who are now being plunged into mourning on an almost daily basis by attacks targeting civilians, security forces and members of Christian communities and other religious minorities;

3. Calls on the national authorities to invest more in national dialogue as an important building block for cohesion; highlights the need to foster unity and dialogue between all communities in Burkina Faso, including traditional leaders and civil society organisations, in order to counter the attempt to spread hatred and create inter-community tensions;

4. Calls on the Government of Burkina Faso to increase its support for and protection of Muslim, Christian and animist communities in order to maintain the long-lasting Burkinabè tradition of the peaceful co-existence of Islam and Christianity; calls for additional support for victims of violence, particularly woman and children;

5. Recalls that the fight against terrorism can only bear fruit if security forces respect the rule of law and human rights; urges the Burkinabè Government, against this background, to immediately put an end to its abusive counter-insurgency strategy, notably the summary execution of suspects, which risks inflaming the conflict by driving more people into the hands of militant Islamist recruiters;

6. Calls on the Burkinabè Government to deliver on its commitment to investigate alleged abuses by state forces, take concrete measures to prevent any further abuses and base its strategy for combating terrorism and violent extremism on the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights, in accordance with its obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, international humanitarian law and refugee law;

7. Insists on a comprehensive approach towards preventing radicalisation and terrorism focused on strengthening social cohesion and crime prevention; calls on the Burkinabè authorities to step up their efforts to reduce poverty, create better employment prospects, especially for young people, and empower and respect the individual, so as to eliminate at the source grievances and frustrations that could potentially be exploited by violent extremists; reiterates that investment in education is essential for conflict prevention and the reconstruction of peaceful and inclusive societies;

8. Recalls that linking political, security and sustainable development, also to religious awareness through the promotion of inter-religious dialogue, will be essential to finding a long-lasting solution to the various challenges faced by Burkina Faso and the Sahel region;

9. Calls for international coordination throughout the region, notably in the framework of ECOWAS, with the political objectives of safeguarding the territorial sovereignty and integrity of its members, regional democratic institutions, the security of all citizens and their properties; recalls that the situation in Burkina Faso has a direct impact on its neighbouring states; calls on the Burkinabè Government to further intensify its cooperation with its neighbouring states, especially with regard to its northern regions and those states directly affected by the violence, such as Mali and Niger;

10. Commends the EU and its Member States for supporting the G5 Sahel, MINUSMA and Operation Barkhane; further commends the efforts of the civilian EUCAP SAHEL missions in Mali and Niger and of the military training mission EUTM Mali; calls for the EU to further increase its support to Burkina Faso in order to tackle the enormous security challenges in the country; emphasises the need for more comprehensive and coordinated international security action in Burkina Faso; calls on the G5 Sahel countries and international donors to step up their efforts in order to turn the joint military force of the G5 Sahel into an operational force with sufficient means without further delay, while fully respecting human rights;

11. Stresses that security is vital, but that it is not the only answer to the challenges that Burkina Faso is facing, and that, therefore, coordination between security and development and trade policies is one of the essential challenges; underscores that the security of the local population should be the guiding principle of EU security sector reform and assistance efforts in fragile countries and regions;

12. Notes that conflict, displacement and desertification make it difficult to engage in traditional types of employment; highlights the fact that 65 % of the Burkinabè population is under 25 years of age; believes that security operations in Burkina Faso must be accompanied by local development efforts aimed at decreasing inequality and improving infrastructure, political participation, justice provision, female emancipation and economic opportunities;

13. Notes the deteriorating situation in Burkina Faso and its international geopolitical implications; underlines the fact that the EU’s continued security and political assistance with the G5-Sahel-led efforts in the region is imperative, including for the peace process in Mali; calls for increased support for the security forces in Burkina Faso to enable them to respond to the threats of jihadist attacks and violence, and to support government control in the northern and eastern regions;

14. Stresses that international coordination is also crucial and that the EU should be willing to engage even more with the whole region and integrate this in its new ‘EU-Africa Strategy – a partnership for sustainable and inclusive development’;

15. Calls on the European External Action Service to include the effective practice of interreligious dialogue as a tool in its strategy for communication with third countries and to encourage mediation in conflict situations with the aim of protecting religious minorities and the freedom of religion and belief;

16. Welcomes the United Nations Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites, which was developed by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and announced by the United Nations Secretary-General Mr António Guterres on 12 September 2019;

17. Emphasises that the priority in the combat against terrorism is to end the international funding of jihadist armed groups on the one hand and to tackle the root causes of poverty and inequality on the other;

18. Believes that the EU must work with ECOWAS and the government and all stakeholders in Burkina Faso to strengthen development, education and climate change adaptation efforts in order to tackle poverty and prevent further radicalisation; stresses that climate change is a major risk multiplier for conflict, drought, famine and displacement; urges the Government of Burkina Faso to prioritise the fight against corruption and impunity;

19. Expresses particular concern over the impact of security threats on the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance and development cooperation; urges the Member States and the international community to increase their humanitarian assistance to Burkina Faso, in particular through the provision of food, water and medical services; warns that another humanitarian crisis will arise if the basic needs of the displaced and hosting communities (such as food, water, shelter and healthcare) are not met;

20. Calls on the Government of Burkina Faso to safeguard the delivery of humanitarian assistance and food aid, in particular in areas with limited humanitarian access, and to take specific measures to reinforce actions for the prevention and management of acute malnutrition in IDP camps, with a particular focus on vulnerable groups, including women and children;

21. Urges the Government of Burkina Faso to secure and facilitate livestock transhumance movements to prevent community conflicts, and to increase the availability of, and access of livestock to, food, water and care in areas with significant feed deficits;

22. Expresses its gratitude for the important work carried out by NGOs, including faith-based NGOs, and international institutions in providing support to the numerous victims of violence, in particular women and children;

23. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the President of the Republic of Burkina Faso, the Speaker of the Burkinabè Parliament, and the African Union and its institutions.




Last updated: 19 December 2019
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