Civil Society Fears Effects of NGO legislation and mandatory re-registration


As Burkina Faso transitioned to democracy by holding its first free and competitive elections in November 2015, a new law on associations was passed. In force since February, the law establishes the conditions for the creation of organsations and a framework for their operation. It has already led to an increase in the number of registered CSOs, with 1,603 requests filed as of 7th June. However, CSOs in Burkina Faso worry that certain provisions of the new legislation could result in undue restrictions being imposed on civil society activities, particularly because the government is currently considering a new initiative to force all CSOs to re-register.

Civil society actors have expressed specific concerns regarding articles 13, 56 and 57 of the new law. Article 13 states that the competent authority can delay the process of granting an organisation legal personality in order to conduct a "morality survey" on the petitioner if necessary. Article 56 establishes a "mediation commission" for conflict resolution, which CSOs considered to be an intrusion by the state into civil society affairs. Article 57 in turn mandates the creation of a database containing information on CSO leaders and activities, to be available for consultation by any interested party. This has raised fears within civil society organisations about potential arbitrary uses of the stored information. Fears have increased as the Minister of Territorial Administration has recently expressed his intention to issue a decree mandating re-registration for all CSOs, a decision that has been criticised as a tool to gain further control over civil society.