Justice At Last! How Widow Defeated State In 15-Year Battle Against Impunity


On March 28, 2014, the Justices at the Arusha-based African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) finally dismantled the fortified walls of impunity that had stood in the way of justice for a widow and her family for the last 15 years. It was the day of victory for Genevieve Zongo, wife of the late celebrated Burkinabe Journalist, Norbert Zongo.

The venue was the Kibo Hall of the Julius Nyerere Conservation Centre, which served as the seat of the ACHPR. The Law Lords delivered a seminal verdict upholding a complaint by Genevieve and the chamber of justice resonated with a harmonious chorus of the three words “justice at last” which came from a sobbing Genevieve and family members who had endured the pain of a palpable denial of justice for a decade and a half.

The matter dates back to 1998 when Zongo, and iconic investigative journalist and Director of the weekly newspaper, l’Indépendant, was gruesomely murdered alongside three others. The other three were Abdoulaye Nikiema, Blaise Ilboudo and Ernest Zongoa. Their charred corpses were found in the car which was transporting them at a few kilometers from Sapouy, in the south of Burkina Faso.

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