Two years after the murder of Norbert Zongo, those responsible are still free and RSF is barred from Burkina Faso
(RSF/IFEX) - The following is an RSF press release:
Paris, 7 December 2000
MURDER OF NORBERT ZONGO: TWO YEARS AFTER THE MURDER OF NORBERT ZONGO, THOSE RESPONSIBLE ARE STILL FREE AND RSF IS NOT ALLOWED TO GO TO BURKINA-FASO
On the occasion of the second anniversary of the murder of journalist Norbert Zongo, on 13 December 1998, Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) once again denounces the fact that the culprits have not been punished. After two years, none of the six suspects identified by an independent commission of inquiry in May 1999 have been charged, and François Compaoré, the president's brother, implicated in the affair, has not even been heard by the judge responsible for investigating the case.
On 27 November 2000, the Burkina Faso embassy in Paris refused to grant visas to two RSF representatives who wished to attend the press freedom festival in Ouagadougou. The organisation is outraged at this refusal and pointed out to the Burkina Faso ambassador that "this decision shows, once again, that the Burkina Faso authorities do not wish to get to the bottom of this affair. It is unacceptable that a non-governmental human rights organisation may not freely visit your country".
RSF is taking advantage of this commemorative day to run a press campaign in seven Burkina Faso newspapers and two pan-African weeklies. The organisation also wanted to buy space to put up 4x3 m posters in the streets of Ouagadougou, but the municipality refused "due to the specific nature of the posters". The picture used in this campaign is of a birthday cake with two candles, with the caption: "Norbert Zongo's murderers are celebrating their second year of impunity".
Norbert Zongo was director of the weekly L'Indépendant. His charred body was found with those of three companions in his car on 13 December 1998 - the date of the beginning of a wave of protest throughout the country. Scores of demonstrations were held in 1999 in Ouagadougou and the country's main towns. On 7 May 1999, after hearing over two hundred people, an independent commission of inquiry responsible for "determining the causes of the death" of journalist Norbert Zongo, concluded that "the motives for this quadruple murder lie in the investigations carried out by this journalist for years, and especially his recent inquiry into the death of David Ouedraogo, the driver of François Compaoré, a presidential adviser" who also happens to be the president's brother. The report also names six "serious suspects" in this affair. All are members of the special presidential guard (RSP).
In May 1999, Robert Ménard, RSF general secretary, was expelled from the country by order of the deputy minister for security, Djibril Bassolé. Two representatives of the organisation were prohibited from entering the country on their arrival at Ouagadougou airport in September of the same year. In both cases, the members of RSF had valid visas granted by the Burkina Faso embassy in France.