As in all other countries in the region, the MFWA has always maintained a strong free expression rights monitoring in Burkina Faso for close to two decades. The organisation, with support from its partners, initiated the Pan-Africa Film and Television Festival, popularly called FESPACO, which has for the past decade been an annual continental freedom of expression event, hosted in the Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou.
In the past three years, the MFWA has been working with local partners in the country, particularly its national partner organisation, the Centre National de Presse – Norbert Zongo (CNP-NZ), and other local civil society groups to seek reforms to laws that restrict media rights and free expression in the country.
After Blaise Campoare was ousted in 2014, the Transitional Government, thankfully, embarked on a number of reforms in 2015, including
- decriminalisation of defamation and laws designed to improve conditions of women
- passage of the Right to Access Information Law (Law no.051-2015/CNT), even though the subsidiary legislation to operationalise it is yet to be passed
- reactivation of investigations into the murder of journalist Norbert Zongo and others in which high profile individuals associated with Campoare are alleged to be linked to.
From the third quarter of 2016, the MFWA, as part of its efforts geared towards media development for participatory and accountable governance, embarked on a project titled, Promoting Citizens’ Awareness on ECOWAS Protocols and Frameworks on Good Governance and Economic Redistribution, in four countries including Burkina Faso. The project built the capacity of the media to create awareness on the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance (PDGG) in the region. As part of the project, the MFWA, together with its national partner organisation, CNP-NZ, implemented a number of activities including seminars and support to journalists to produce stories that examine how well Burkina Faso has implemented the PDGG.
The organisation is also working with CNP-NZ and other local actors to implement a project titled, “enhancing public participation and demand for accountability through effective media and governance dialogue platforms.” The project is aimed at improving citizen-authorities engagements to enhance transparency and accountability.
The MFWA will continue to work with CNP-NZ to promote press freedom and freedom of expression both online and offline. Our work in the country will also focus on strengthening the country’s media and other local actors to enhance their capacity to contribute to a more participatory and accountable democratic governance in the country.
About Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso has Ouagadougou as its capital. The country gained independence from France in 1960. It is a landlocked country that is bordered to the north by Mali, to the east by Niger, to the south by Ghana and Togo and to the southwest by Benin and Ivory Coast. Majority of the population relies on subsistence farming while the rest rely on industry and services. The country has suffered a number of recurring droughts and insurgencies.
The country is rich in natural resources, especially iron and ore. The economy of Burkina Faso is largely based on its mineral resources, agriculture and fishing.
Overview of the Media and FOE Environment
Since the beginning of the 1990s, democratisation has made it possible for the Burkinabe media to enjoy a certain amount of freedom to practice, and has favoured a rapid growth of the media industry. Relatively low circulation figures, structural difficulties and low advertising market continue to negatively affect the commercial viability of the media industry. There are also challenges of professional standards, low remuneration and quality of journalism training.
The Constitution of the country provides for freedom of speech and of the press. However, there are governmental restrictions on these rights and frequent acts of intimidation of journalists by state security officials.
The Higher Council for Communication (CSC) is currently the body which regulates the media, information and communication. It succeeded the Higher Council on Information (CSI), which was established in 1995 by Decree No. 95-304/PRES/PM/MCC of August 1, 1995.
Legal & Regulatory Framework for Media Operation
The media landscape in Burkina Faso is governed by the following laws:
- Law 56/93/ADP (JON° 05 1994) of the Information code
- Article 8 of the constitution and the 1993 Information Code
- Article 49 of the Information Code