University of Lyon withdraws honorary ‘doctor’ degree awarded to ex-dictator Burkina Faso president

18 years after awarding the title of “Doctor honoris causa” to Blais Compaoré, sentenced to life in prison for the assassination of Thomas Sankara, the University of Lyon 3 wishes to reconsider this distinction.

In 2004, Blaise Compaoré was awarded the title of “Doctor honoris causa” at the prestigious Jean Moulin University known as Lyon 3.

The former dictator of Burkina Faso was “sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of, among others, Thomas Sankara. This decision has been made “so that the University of Lyon” washes away the insult dedicated to the University’s values ​​as much as to the people of Burkina Faso”, explains Éric Carpano, director of Lyon 3 in a press release.

Former Burkinabe President Blaise Compaoré was sentenced in absentia on 6 April military tribunal in Ouagadougou. He was found guilty of “undermining state security”, “concealment of a corpse” and “complicity in murder”, among others, in connection with the murder of Thomas Sankara on 15 October 1987 and the coup that allowed him to seize power.

The reputation of Lyon 3 University has already been tarnished by several cases. Historically, accusations of Holocaust denial and the influence of certain radical groups earned him the image of a “right-wing, even extreme right-wing university”. Recently, Unef has condemned the problems of racism and harassment. Unef, which has condemned the honor of Blaise Compaoré from Lyon 3 since 2004 and was one of the associations that at the time called for a demonstration against this decision. In a letter addressed to the then president of the university, the student association wondered:

“What elements can allow a university to award an honorary degree to a person responsible for such mismanagement accompanied by an increase in human rights violations against people raised as one man since the end of 1998 under the slogan “enough is “?”

On September 19, 2022, two prominent law professors were named “honorary doctors” of the University of Lyon 3.

Johannes MASING

He studied law, philosophy and music, professor of constitutional law at the University of Freiburg im Breisgau, former judge of the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe from 2008 to 2020 former director of the Department of Environmental Law at his university.

In his work, he focuses on the protection of fundamental rights and more generally about the analysis of interactions of different types of human rights protection at the national, European and international level.

Philippe Sands

Law professor and lawyer Philippe Sands is committed to defending human rights, in the affirmation of international justice and is one of the pioneers in the definition of the crime of ecocide. He was recently one of the first international lawyers to call for the establishment of a special criminal court to try the crime of aggression committed in Ukraine.


In the press release, M Carpano states that “what was already unacceptable in 2004 is even more so today” a “Jean Moulin University seriously failed in these values ​​by awarding on April 23, 2004“Title for Blaise Compaoré, man ” enslaved his people for years and is a symbol of Francophonie confused by neo-colonialism “Françafrique””. The decision to withdraw the degree will be submitted to the nearest administrative board of the university.

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