Burkina Faso: Author of death threat against journalists sentenced

On February 10, 2023, the trial of Mohamed Sinon, the author of a video calling for the murder of journalist Newton Ahmed Barry, came to an end. Mohamed had also called for the killing of Alpha Barry, the promoter of the media group, Omega Média.

The High Court of Ouaga 1 (Tribunal de Grande Instance de Ouaga 1) sentenced the activist to 24 months in prison and fined him 500,000 CFA Francs (about 802 US dollars), all suspended.

Sinon, one of the leaders of a civil society organisation called the “Collectif des Leaders Panafricains” (Panafrican Leaders Association), admitted the charges against him, namely “endangering the lives of others, intolerance and issuing threats”.

Sinon will also have to pay a symbolic franc to the journalists Alpha Barry and Newton Ahmed Barry as well as costs in the sum of 1 million CFA francs (about US$1,600).

The activist was imprisoned on January 23, 2023, at the Ouagadougou prison (MACO) after security forces tracked down and arrested him after several months of searching for him in connection with hate messages he put out

On December 4, 2022, a video in which Sinon was seen making threats was posted on WhatsApp. The targets were Newton Ahmed Barry, former editor-in-chief of the private investigative newspaper L’Evènement, and Alpha Barry, founder of the Oméga Médias group.

In the same video, the author, who boasted of being able to speak openly without fear, compared the death of his targets to that of simple animals.

Sinon is known for his pro-transition stance and is regarded as a supporter of Captain Traoré, the current head of the ruling junta. He attacked Newton Ahmed Barry over Barry’s critical analyses of the current security situation in Burkina Faso under the presidency of Captain Ibrahim Traoré. As for Alpha Barry, he was allegedly targeted because he is the promoter of the Oméga Médias group, a media group with platforms for an inclusive discourse.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) welcomes the reaction of the Burkinabe authorities leading to the arrest and trial of activist Mohamed Sinon. We urge the government, the media, civil society organisations, all stakeholders and the population to exercise their freedom of expression to promote harmony and peace in a country that is riven by strife.

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