The junta in Burkina Faso has expelled Agnès Faivre, a correspondent for Liberation and Sophie Douce of Le Monde Afrique newspapers, accusing the journalists of “tarnishing the image of the country.”
The authorities cited a March 27, 2023 investigation story by Liberation on a video in which at least one soldier was seen executing a juvenile. The video also showed the bodies of other juveniles lying on the ground in a military barracks.
The newspaper did not show the video itself “in view of its shocking nature and out of respect for the dignity of the victims,” the editors explained in the story.
“The government strongly condemns these manipulations disguised as journalism to tarnish the image of the country,” Burkina Faso’s government spokesman Jean-Emmanuel Ouédraogo wrote in an April 1, 2023 statement announcing the expulsion.
The previous day, (March 31, 2023), the two were summoned to the state security office and interrogated.
“The officers interrogated us on our work, our sources and our Burkinabe contacts and on the story that Liberation published concerning the video,” Agnès Faivre told RFI.
Later in the evening of the same day, some national security operatives went to the home of Sophie Douce of Le Monde Afrique to give her notice to quit the country within 24 hours.
In the morning of the following day, Agnès Faivre of Liberation received a similar visit and the same order. The two journalists left Burkina Faso on April 1, 2023.
Le Monde said it “condemns in the strongest terms this arbitrary decision to force the two journalists to leave Ouagadougou in less than twenty-four hours. Sophie Douce, just like her sister colleague practises for Le Monde Afrique independent journalism devoid of any pressure.”
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) condemns the expulsion of Douce and Faivre for doing their work as journalists. The action undermines the authority of the Superior Council for Communication (CSC), the media regulator with a mandate to monitor and sanction inappropriate content. This usurpation of the CSC’s mandate is unhealthy for press freedom and dangerous for freedom of expression in general in Burkina Faso.
We call on the Burkinabe authorities to rescind the decision as well as the recent suspension of France 24, also without recourse to the CSC. We also call on the leadership of the media regulator to assert themselves and resist the usurpation of their functions by the junta.