CJFE calls for inquiry into suspicious death of Burkina Faso journalist Norbert Zongo

Thursday, December 17, 1998

CJFE calls for inquiry into suspicious
death of Burkina Faso journalist Norbert Zongo

The following is a letter of protest prepared by the CJFE.
Feel free to use this as a template for your own letters.

Son Excellence Blaise Compaoré
01 BP 24 Ouagadougou 01
Burkina Faso
Fax: +226 31 05 78

17 December 1998

Your Excellency,

On behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, I would like to ask you to launch a full investigation into the mysterious death on 13 December of Norbert Zongo, editor-in-chief of the private weekly "The Independent", and three others.

Zongo is reported to have been found dead in his vehicle on the road between Sapouy and Ougadougou, along with his brother, the driver and one other person. Zongo, who was also President of Association of Independent Newspapers (SEP), had received several death threats in the past and had recently published articles critical of your brother, accusing him of responsibility in the death of his chauffeur.

We find it hard to believe the deaths are the result of an accident when the four are reported to have been burnt to death with their charred bodies inside the vehicle, although the outside of the vehicle was not burnt. Another indication of foul play is the report of bullet holes in the rear door of the vehicle.

The murder of Zongo is a great loss to independent journalism in Burkina Faso, as he was actively involved in the Burkina Press Centre and was committed to the promotion of editorial independence and professional standards in journalism.

Given the highly suspicious circumstances of these deaths, we urge you to ensure that a full and independent investigation is carried out and that the results are made public. We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,
Wayne Sharpe
Executive Director

cc. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
03 BP 7038 Ouagadougou 03, Burkina Faso
Fax: +226 30 87 92