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Burkina Faso 25 October 2005

President Compaoré asked to appeal to Zongo case witnesses to speak without fear

Dear Mr. President,

Today is the start of the campaign for the 13 November presidential election, in which you are seeking another term. The tragic memory of murdered journalist Norbert Zongo will hang over the debates because the impunity enjoyed by his killers continues to poison your country’s political life. Burkina Faso has suffered too much from the still unhealed wound left by his death on 13 December 1998 in Sapouy.

You have repeatedly expressed your “ardent desire to see this case solved” and you did so again in January. “I think we must continue to put our confidence in the judicial system and let it carry through its investigation with impartiality to the end,” you said. Since then, nothing has changed. Investigating judge Wenceslas Ilboudo has tried to get all the witnesses to finally tell the whole truth. But without success. They fear for their safety if they break the law of silence. So the investigation has ground to a complete halt.

Reporters Without Borders therefore asks you to appeal publicly to the witnesses in the Zongo case to speak without fear. This case will not progress if you do not give the witnesses your assurance that you will support them if they talk and that you undertake to protect them.

Reporters Without Borders’ goal in this case has not changed since the day Zongo died. Like his family and friends, we want the truth to come out and we want justice to be done. The murderers must be identified and brought to justice for this hideous crime. Until this is done, confidence will not be restored in the country you govern and suspicion will continue to prevail. But if we take you at your word, the goals of truth and justice are also yours.

Mr. President, there is a way for justice to be done and it is you who has the duty to resolve this impasse. Do not miss this opportunity to help all those who lost a little of their own lives when Zongo and his three friends were butchered on 13 December 1998.


Robert Ménard,


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