Burkina Faso‘s parliament has approved legislation allowing the military to use civilian volunteers in the fight against armed groups.
Legislators in the West African nation on Thursday allowed the “understaffed” military to arm civilians, a move that underscores how outnumbered the country’s soldiers are amid rising attacks.
Defence Minister Cherif Sy said the civilian recruits will undergo two weeks of training. He said the volunteers must be 18 years old and will undergo a “moral investigation” before being allowed to serve.
“It is not a question of making cannon fodder,” he said. “We want to prevent these volunteers from becoming militias.”
Burkina Faso’s military has struggled to contain the spread of violent attacks despite training and assistance from France and the United States.
It has also been criticised for committing abuses during its crackdown on suspected fighters.
Corinne Dufka, West Africa director for Human Rights Watch (HRW), said on Thursday the government has failed to investigate a pattern of alleged killings by its own security services.
“This new plan to subcontract security operations to civilians threatens to lead to even more abuses.”
The rights group last year said more than 150 men – mostly ethnic Peuhl herdsmen – were killed by Burkinabe security forces after being accused of supporting armed groups.
The government on Tuesday declared two days of national mourning following an attack on two villages, in which at least 36 civilians were killed, in the latest violence to rock the country.
The incidents prompted hundreds of people to flee the area and take refuge in the city of Kaya, residents told the AFP news agency.
Burkina Faso, as well as neighbouring Mali and Niger, has seen frequent attacks by armed groups since the start of 2015 when violence began to spread across the Sahel region.
According to the United Nations, some 4,000 people were killed in attacks in the three countries last year.
- Stephen Appiah excludes Asamoah Gyan from his list of best Ghanaian players
- ‘I dread pain and abuse’ – A female head porter opens up on her daily trauma
- Police arrest notorious armed robber in Tema
- ‘Government is either feigning incompetence on the point of how we fix structures or is pretending to fix them’ – Barker-Vormawor
- CID probes 53 schools over alleged corruption in school feeding programme
- Virologist warns of third wave of Covid-19 in Ghana
- Covid-19: GHS to roll out second doses from May 19
- NSMQ2021: Mfantsipim School begins redemption campaign from regional qualifiers
- 2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Black Stars to camp in Europe despite postponement
- Family sues Daasebre Oti Boateng for failing to replace a statue he destroyed
We will not allow any religious group to plunge Ghana into chaos – Muntaka
Akufo-Addo meets families of May 9 victims
Astroturf pitch commissioned to boost football in Old Tafo
Sunyani Muslims join SDA Church in worship
Burglars target Nigeria president’s chief of staff
Climate change: Zoggu residents cannot access water
Amanase residents burn fetish priest’s car over suspected ritual murder
Actor sues TikTok for using her voice in viral tool
9 dead after shooting at Russian school
Apple’s UK users deserve app price compensation, claim says
Today’s front pages: Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Over 10 make-shift structures razed down by fire at Krofrom-Kumasi
Tema Police Command records 3 attempted murder cases in first quarter of 2021
MMDCEs and MPs must collaborate to stimulate development – Kwadaso MP
Gov’t to roll out eight additional interventions this month under Ghana CARES programme-Ofori-Atta