Burkina Faso suspends yet another French media

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is deeply concerned with the  suspension of French news channel TV5 Monde-Afrique by the Burkinabe authorities and calls for dialogue to resolve the impasse.

On June 18, 2024, the Conseil supérieur de la communication (CSC), Burkina Faso’s media regulator, suspended TV5 Monde-Afrique for six months, accusing the channel of broadcasting “tendentious statements bordering on disinformation”. This decision was made following a broadcast concerning the country’s security situation and claims of a “mutiny” in military barracks. The Burkinabe army has vehemently denied these allegations.

The CSC said the programme made “malicious insinuations” and “assertions likely to undermine the efforts” of the transitional authorities and the security forces in their efforts to combat terrorism and reclaim national territory. The channel has also been fined 50 million CFA francs (approximately $81,658).

The CSC’s press release specifically criticised the participation of Newton Ahmed Barry, in the programme. As journalist and former chairman of Burkina Faso’s electoral commission, Barry has been vocal in his criticism of the current military regime. During the broadcast, Barry discussed the security challenges facing Burkina Faso, particularly in the wake of a deadly jihadist attack in Mansila, near the Niger border, which the Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), affiliated with al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for.

The suspension of TV5 Monde-Afrique is part of a broader trend that has intensified since Captain Ibrahim Traoré came to power in a coup d’état in October 2022. Numerous foreign media outlets, primarily French, have been suspended either temporarily or permanently. Earlier in the year, TV5 Monde-Afrique was suspended for two weeks on April 27, 2024, following a broadcast of a Human Rights Watch report that accused the Burkinabe army of committing abuses against civilians.

The MFWA views such suspensions as detrimental to press freedom and calls on the Burkinabe authorities to immediately revoke the suspension of TV5 Monde-Afrique and other media outlets affected by similar actions.

We urge the authorities to demonstrate tolerance for critical reporting and to exercise the right to rejoinders or seek redress in court.

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