On 28 November 2023, Frédéric Maillot, Member of Parliament for the French overseas departement of the island of Reunion, took advantage of a question and answer session to pose the following question: “If the French State has declassified confidential defence documents, why have those covered by national defence secret not been returned? [1] (see (in French)).

Olivier Becht, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade, Attractiveness and French Nationals Abroad, who was responsible for responding on behalf of the government, said: “… France has therefore kept the promise made by President Emmanuel Macron in Ouagadougou in November 2017, to transmit all the documents, all the documents produced by the French administrations during Sankara’s regime and after his assassination, the promise has therefore been kept, the documents have been transmitted”.

However, we were able to contact the lawyers representing the families of the victims of the 15 October 1987 coup d’État, who confirmed that no secret defence documents had been provided by France, only confidential defence documents.

For the record, we recall once again the commitment made by Emmanuel Macron to a lecture hall of students on 29 November 2017 in Ouagadougou, in the presence of the then President of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré: “I have taken the decision, in response to requests from the Burkina Faso judiciary, that all documents produced by French administrations during the Sankara regime and after his assassination… covered by national secrecy will be declassified and consulted”. The French government avoided mentioning the clarification given by the MP, contenting itself with an evasive response that turns out to be just another State lie, this is the usual French authorities’ delaying tactic whenever they are pressed by a judge or by victims’ families. In reality, France very rarely declassifies secret defence documents. It has not done so, as promised, in the Sankara affair, declassifying only confidential defence documents.

The method consists of making occasional promises to satisfy a demand of the moment, even in the presence of the head of state directly concerned, and then not honouring the commitments. This reflects the profound contempt shown by Emmanuel Macron and the French authorities towards their African counterparts, the African populations, and the families of the victims of the assassinations of Thomas Sankara and his 12 companions on 15 October 1987. This is an attitude that France has paid for dearly in the sub-region, as we have seen in recent times.

We strongly protest against this new State lie about defence secrecy. These documents have not been declassified. Only confidential defence documents with a lower level of secrecy have been declassified.

We call on the members of the French Parliament to reject this contempt, to demand that President Emmanuel Macron keep his word, and to express their solidarity with the families of the victims of the 15 October 1987 coup d’État, who have been demanding the truth for so many long years.

The lies and prevarications of the French authorities regarding the delivery of the declassified archives in the Sankara affair only increase suspicion about the role that the French government may have played in the assassination of Thomas Sankara.

France must honour its promise and declassify all the secret defence documents relating to the assassination of Sankara and his companions and provide them to the Burkinabe justice system!

Signed in Paris, Ouagadougou, Ottawa, Bamako, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Toulouse, Nîmes, Rome, Dakar, Turin, Ajaccio, Banfora, Bobo Dioulasso, Niamey, Brussels, Liège, Barcelona, Berlin, Basel on 12 December 2023

The international network Justice for Thomas Sankara Justice for Africa

Contact: contactjusticepoursankara at


[1A few details are in order here. Until 2021, there were three levels of secrecy: confidential defence, secret defence and top secret defence. A reform in July 2021 merged the first two into defence confidential (see
However, the third batch of documents provided by the French authorities was handed over to the Burkina Faso judicial authorities in April 2021, i.e. classified before the reform. In other words, at the time the documents were handed over, the classification into 3 levels of secrecy was in progress. The term “national secret” was then used to designate the three levels of secrecy.


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