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Burkina Faso Human Rights Activist Abducted Amid Fears of Suppression of Dissent

A prominent human rights defender in Burkina Faso was kidnapped by unknown individuals, prompting concerns of government suppression of dissent using a controversial law, rights groups reported.

Daouda Diallo, a recipient of the prestigious Martin Ennals international human rights award, was abducted in Burkina Faso’s capital city of Ouagadougou after visiting the passport department, where he had gone to renew his documents, according to the local Collective Against Impunity and Stigmatization of Communities civic group, which Diallo founded.

His captors, dressed in civilian clothing, confronted him as he attempted to enter his car and took him to an undisclosed location, the group said in a statement, warning that Diallo’s health could be at risk and demanding his immediate release.

Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa office stated that Diallo’s abduction was likely an attempt to forcibly enlist him, following his inclusion last month among those ordered to join Burkina Faso’s security forces in their fight against jihadi violence as provided by a new law.

“Amnesty International denounces the use of conscription to intimidate independent voices in #BurkinaFaso and calls for the release of Dr. Diallo,” the group stated via X, formerly known as Twitter.

Earlier this year, Burkina Faso’s junta announced the “general mobilization” decree to recapture territories lost as jihadi attacks continue to ravage the landlocked country.

The decree empowers the government to send people to join the fight against the armed groups. However, it is also being used to “target individuals who have openly criticized the junta” and “to silence peaceful dissent and punish its critics,” according to Human Rights Watch.

HRW mentioned that the government informed at least a dozen journalists, civil society activists, and opposition party members in November that they would be conscripted, including Diallo, who joined Burkina Faso activists in condemning the move.

“The simple act of expressing an independent position is enough to be conscripted,” said Ousmane Diallo, a researcher with Amnesty International in Burkina Faso.

“Right now, civil society activists, human rights defenders, and even leaders of opposition political parties do not dare express freely their opinions because this decree is being used to silence and intimidate all of the voices that are independent,” he added.

Daouda Diallo won the prestigious Martin Ennals award for his work in documenting abuses and protecting people’s rights in Burkina Faso, where security forces have been combating jihadi violence for many years.

A pharmacist turned activist, he revealed last year that he is frequently followed, his home has been robbed, and he rarely sleeps in the same place for fear of being killed.

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