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Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso criminalizes terrorism in dedicated laws, first adopted in 2009 and then amended in 2015. There is no explicit carve-out for the exercise of fundamental human rights. The death penalty was abolished in 2018.

Compliance with International Law:
Last updated: one year ago

The Definition of Terrorism in Domestic Law

The Criminal Code of Burkina Faso defines and criminalizes a terrorist act as follows:

The following offences which, by their nature, are intended to intimidate or terrorize a population or to compel a State or an international organization to perform or refrain from performing any act whatsoever...:

˗ hostage-taking;

˗ offences against civil aviation, ships, fixed platforms, and any other means of collective transport;

˗ offences against persons enjoying international protection, including diplomatic agents;

˗ offences involving the use of hazardous materials.Art. 361-1, Criminal Code of Burkina Faso.

The Criminal Code further considers as acts of terrorism

the following offenses when by their context these acts are intended to intimidate or terrorize a population or to compel a State or an international organization to do or refrain from doing any act whatsoever:

˗ intentional attacks on life, intentional attacks on the integrity of the person, kidnapping and sequestration defined by this code;

˗ theft, extortion, destruction, degradation and deterioration, as well as computer offenses provided for by law;

˗ association of criminals;

˗ offenses relating to weapons and explosive products defined by law.Art. 361-2, Criminal Code of Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso has also defined terrorist acts in a 2015 amended law pertaining to predicate offences as "breaches that, by their nature, aim to intimidate or terrorise a population or to compel a State or an international organisation to undertake or not undertake an act".Art. 2, Loi No. 084-2015/CNT, Portant Modification de la Loi No. 060-2009/AN du 17 Decembre 2009 Portant Repression d'actes de Terrorisme au Burkina Faso.

Adherence to Global and Regional Terrorism Treaties


Burkina Faso has adhered to most of the main United Nations treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Global Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1973 Convention on Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons State Party
1979 Hostage-Taking Convention State Party
1997 Terrorist Bombings Convention State Party
1999 Terrorist Financing Convention State Party
2005 Nuclear Terrorism Convention Signatory


Burkina Faso has also adhered to the two African treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Regional Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1999 Algiers Convention State Party
2004 Protocol to the Algiers Convention State Party

Laws and Penalties for Terrorist Offences

A maximum penalty of life imprisonment is imposable for the most serious terrorist offences. Burkina Faso abolished the death penalty in 2018. 

A term of imprisonment of between ten and twenty years is imposable on anyone who recruits, maintains, or trains another person to commit or participate in the commission of terrorist offences or invites or compels them to join a terrorist association or group.Art. 15 bis, 2015 Amended Law on Terrorism.A 2019 revision of the criminal code made disseminating information about terrorist attacks and security activity, along with the “demoralization” of defense and security forces, criminal offences punishable by prison terms of up to 10 years.

Travelling to another country to commit or to be trained to commit terrorist offences is subject to five years' imprisonment upon conviction.

Since 2021, a special chamber directly adjudicates terrorism and terrorism financing cases, with a view to shortening pre-trial timelines. A special brigade on anti-terrorism investigations (BSIAT, Brigade Spéciale des Investigations Antiterroristes) became operational in August 2019.

PAX has reported that counterterrorism operations have resulted in overcrowded prisons in the country. The Prison de Haute Sécurité (PHS) in Ouagadougou houses more than one thousand detainees, more than double the maximum capacity. "Abject conditions with regards to the health, sanitation and legal situation of inmates constitute a fertile ground for radicalization." Many of the inmates have not been charged much less prosecuted for criminal offences.

Counterterrorism Capacities and Policies at Domestic Level

Burkina Faso is confronting a significant and growing threat from Islamist terrorist groups. Its armed forces are reported to have perpetrated unlawful killings in seeking to counter the threat. In 2019, the Committee against Torture stressed the need to uphold human rights despite the challenge posed by radicalization and terrorism. Committee members raised concerns regarding measures put in place to address insecurity issues, such as terrorism-related preventive detentions.


2015 Amendment to the 2009 Terrorism Law (French original)

2018 Modification to the Penal Code (original text)

Penal Code (2018) (original text)