Burkina Faso: Regulatory Body Suspends Magazine Despite Military Discharge

The media regulatory body in Burkina Faso, Conseil Supérieur de la Communication (CSC) has suspended the investigative magazine L’Evènement for a month without a hearing.

The sanction followed a report in the February 10, 2016 edition of the magazine which the CSC says amounts to “revealing military secrets.” The publication was about an attack by members of the former Regiment de Sécurité Présidentiel (RSP) on an arms depot in the district of Yimdi. It also featured a map of similar depots that have been abandoned.

Following the report, a military tribunal in Ouagadougou summoned the magazine’s director of publication Germain Nama Bitiou and editor Newton Hamed Barry on February 18. They were discharged after a brief hearing.  A day after appearing before the tribunal however, the CSC issued a release suspending L’Evènement for a month.

The Management of the journal has criticised the decision of the CSC as arbitrary. “Instead of brandishing the baton, you must promote democratic debate,” it said. “The CSC must present to the press a list of all that is considered as military secrets in our country. Finally, the difference between a secret and a taboo must be clearly spelt out, for a secret is not necessarily a taboo.  Is everything about the army a taboo?” it wondered.

The MFWA is equally dismayed at the regulator’s decision, because the military, whose secret the magazine allegedly revealed, offered the editors the opportunity to explain the issue and discharged the two gentlemen without even a reprimand. As a media regulatory body tasked with resolving media-related issues, the CSC should have rather intervened as mediators between the magazine and the military authorities when the issue arose.  We urge the CSC to lift the suspension. We also commend the military for using dialogue in resolving the issue with L’Evènement.

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