Burkina Faso: MFWA demands release of abducted journalist

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) expresses deep outrage over the abduction of journalist Atiana Serge Oulon on June 24, 2024, in Ouagadougou. Mr. Oulon, the editor-in-chief of L’Évènement, was taken from his home at dawn by unidentified assailants. Later, individuals claiming affiliation with the National Intelligence Agency compelled his wife to produce his mobile phones and computer. As of now, Mr. Oulon’s whereabouts remain unknown.

Just days before his kidnapping, on June 19, the Superior Council for Communication (CSC) in Burkina Faso had imposed a one-month suspension on L’Évènement following an article published on June 10, 2024. The article accused a certain Captain Prospère BOENA, whom the paper claimed to be a close associate of Burkina Faso’s military leader Captain Ibrahim Traoré, of embezzling 400 million FCFA (about $651,436).

In a statement issued on the evening of June 24, the Norbert Zongo National Press Center and Burkina Faso’s media professional organisations strongly condemned Mr. Oulon’s abduction and demanded his immediate release.

On June 24, 2024, media professional organisations expressed shock at the early morning abduction of Mr. Oulon from his residence. They decried this act of harassment and intimidation amidst a broader crackdown on press freedom, exemplified by actions such as the formal warning to Lefaso.net and the suspension of BF1’s “7Infos” programme. These organisations concluded by demanding Mr. Oulon’s immediate release and the protection of freedom of expression and the press in Burkina Faso.

The MFWA stands in solidarity with Burkinabe journalists in these challenging times and expresses full support to Mr. Oulon’s family and colleagues at L’Évènement. We join our voice with Burkina Faso’s media bodies in urging the immediate release of Mr. Oulon and calling on authorities to resolve disputes amicably.

The MFWA strongly condemns the abduction of Atiana Serge Oulon, editor-in-chief of L’Évènement, and calls on the authorities to unravel the disappearance of the journalist as soon as possible. While advocating for adherence to judicial processes, we urge political, judicial, and security authorities to address this egregious violation promptly and uphold the rule of law.

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