ECHR Ruling Challenges Extradition of François Compaoré

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
3 Min Read
François Compaoré

The extradition case of François Compaoré, the younger brother of Burkina Faso’s former President Blaise Compaoré, has taken a significant turn as the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued a ruling on September 7th, 2023, in Strasbourg. François Compaoré faces criminal charges in Burkina Faso, dating back to 1998, for his alleged involvement in the murder of investigative journalist Norbert Zongo, who was known for exposing government corruption.

France had issued an extradition decree for François Compaoré in 2020, sparking a legal battle that has now reached the ECHR. This ruling carries profound implications for both his extradition case and the broader human rights considerations surrounding it.

ECHR’s Decision

The ECHR’s decision challenges the extradition of François Compaoré to Burkina Faso. The court emphasized that France should not proceed with the extradition based on the 2020 decree without reevaluating the situation in light of the evolving political landscape in Burkina Faso.

The ECHR pointed out that the assurances provided by Burkina Faso at the time the extradition request was made have not been renewed. Consequently, the court expressed concerns that extraditing François Compaoré without a fresh assessment might lead to a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.

François Compaoré’s Claims

François Compaoré, aged 69, has consistently argued that if he were sent back to Burkina Faso, he would face the risk of torture, life imprisonment with no possibility of parole, and degrading detention conditions at the Maison d’arrêt et de correction de Ouagadougou (Maco).

Political Changes in Burkina Faso

The ECHR’s ruling took into account the significant political changes that have occurred in Burkina Faso over the past year. The country experienced two military coups in January and September 2022, which dramatically altered its political landscape.

The court noted that the assurances previously provided by the Burkinabé government had not been reiterated by the second transitional government, established after the September 2022 coup. Furthermore, the current transitional government has not responded to the applicant’s observations.

In light of these considerations, the ECHR has called on France to reevaluate the “validity and reliability of the diplomatic assurances” provided by Burkina Faso. Additionally, France has been instructed to compensate François Compaoré with 15,000 euros to cover the expenses incurred during his legal defense.

François Compaoré’s legal team, led by Me Pierre-Olivier Sur, hailed the ECHR’s decision as a significant victory. They emphasized the potential dangers to his security had he been extradited to Ouagadougou, characterizing it as degrading for France to send him or anyone else under extradition orders to a prison in Burkina Faso with the endorsement of the French judicial system.


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