In what appears to be the Malian authorities’ aversion to foreign independent media, the Haute Autorité de la Communication (High Authority for Communication – HAC), the media regulator, has issued a stern warning to the French channel TV5 Monde.
The HAC was uncomfortable with the TV station’s critical analysis of a report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Ousmane Ndiaye, editor-in-chief of the international channel’s Africa section, analysed the report in the editorial of May 12, 2023.
The OHCHR report accused the Malian army and foreign military personnel of killing hundreds of civilians during a five-day military operation in the village of Moura, located in the Mopti region of central Mali, in March 2022.
In a statement issued on May 15, 2023, the HAC said it had followed with “astonishment and indignation” the curious and inadmissible reading of the Report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the events in Moura in March 2022.
The regulatory body accused Ndiaye of making a peremptory analysis, a malicious indictment and a categorical judgment against Mali, its army and its authorities.
“The accusations and unqualified remarks of the editor-in-chief of the African section of TV5 Monde violate all the rules of journalism ethics and deontology,” the HAC said in a statement.
The HAC drew the attention of the international channel to what it considered editorial excesses aimed at undermining the image and reputation of Mali, and condemned with utmost vigour what it considers to be “smear journalism and stigmatisation”.
“The HAC calls on broadcasters and all operators of signals that relay the TV5 Monde channel in Mali to be vigilant. This is a final warning and the HAC has the right to take any action that is commensurate with the seriousness of these unfounded accusations,” the regulator concluded in its statement.
On October 12, 2022, the regulator issued a similar warning to the local television channel Joliba TV News. The media outlet broadcast an editorial on September 30, 2022, which criticised Mali’s Prime Minister’s “hostile” speech at a UN meeting. The channel, its Facebook page, and the journalist who presented the editorial were eventually suspended for two months on November 3, 2022.
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is extremely concerned by the intimidation of TV5 Monde by the HAC. We urge the regulator to invite the media outlet and offer it an opportunity to respond to whatever concerns there are. We see the HAC posing as an implacable victim of a press offense rather than as a mediator between the media and individuals or institutions that are aggrieved by the work of the media.