Published on Nasikiliza

The personal unique identifier: The solution for improving justice in Burkina Faso

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Ministry of Justice Burkina Faso Ministry of Justice Burkina Faso

To achieve real and sustainable development, an effective judicial system is essential. Today, technology contributes to the improvement of almost every aspect of human life. It is therefore important to consider how technology can also improve judicial systems and increase access to justice. 

I would like to contribute to the conversation on legal development in Burkina Faso by answering the following question: What initiatives or technological measures should World Bank member states support or put in place to improve the rule of law and provide better access to justice for individuals and groups in order to reduce poverty and promote prosperity? 

In Burkina Faso, as in other West African countries, the judicial system faces several challenges: slow judicial procedures, difficulty with providing evidence, corruption, etc. As a result, these shortcomings lead to an uncomfortable situation for litigants, delays in judgments, and unreasonably long prison confinements before trials. These challenges hamper development efforts. Individuals often spend large sums of their income on providing their personal data in court. With the help of my solution, the Personal Unique Identifier (PUI) system, they would, however, be able to save their income for other purposes such as their children’s education and health. 

The PUI is a potential solution that the World Bank could support to improve access to justice in Burkina Faso and reduce poverty. The secure software system would contain the personal data of each citizen, which could be easily accessed by authorized officials. In the case of a legal action, it would be easy to retrieve the data of litigants and thus carry out the procedure.  

Implementation of the personal unique identifier system in Burkina Faso would involve three government agencies: the Ministry of Digital Economy, the Ministry of Justice, and municipal councils. The role of the Ministry of Digital Economy would be to set up appropriate technological tools and authorize relevant officials to use them easily and efficiently. Municipal councils issue birth certificates, the first identification document for a person in Burkina Faso. Thus, their role would be to collect and record the data of each citizen in the secure software. Once the system is launched, it would allow authorized officials to search for a person’s name and access his or her information. The software system would only be accessible to certain justice personnel, including prosecutors, registrars and judges to protect privacy. 

The PUI has several advantages. First, it could solve current security problems by directly addressing the growth of false identities in Burkina Faso. Second, it would speed up legal proceedings given the immediate availability of accurate personal data. Thirdly, it would improve economic growth by speeding up judicial procedures and eliminating some difficulties faced by individuals. 

Finally, the PUI would also be useful in combating corruption, as litigants will no longer be tempted to bribe justice officials as they struggle to provide their personal data in court settings. 

In light of all aforementioned benefits, the support for Burkina Faso in creating a PUI system could help to improve judicial systems and increase access to justice. 

Fatima Deme is one of several winners of the Law, Justice and Development (LJD) Week Law Student Contest for Development Solutions, which fosters innovation, produces legal solutions to development challenges, and provides a venue for young law school students to contribute to meaningful discussions around legal and development topics.


Fatimata Deme

Student in the Department of Legal and Political Sciences at Aube Nouvelle University in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

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