Malian authorities suspend French Channel France 2

The Malian authorities have suspended French channel France 2, as the frosty relations between Mali and the media, particularly the foreign platforms, continues.

France 2 is no more accessible on Malian television channels as a four-month suspension order by the media regulator, the Haute autorité de la communication (HAC), takes effect. The suspension followed the broadcast on January 20, 2024, of a report on the security situation in Mali following the departure of the French military force, Barkhane.

The HAC alleged that the broadcaster glorified terrorism by juxtaposing “the firepower of armed terrorist groups” with that of the Malian armed forces. It accused France 2 of trying to retrospectively “justify” the presence of the French Barkhane force until 2022, based on the severity of the current situation in Mali. Furthermore, France 2 was accused of “serious breaches of ethics and professional conduct” and for failing to provide the Malian authorities with an opportunity to speak on the issue.

The suspension of France 2 follows a trend of bitter confrontations between Mali and France, which has spilled over into the West Africa countries’ relationship with the French media.

In May 2023, the HAC issued a warning to French channel TV5 Monde over its critical analysis of a report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The report, discussed by Ousmane Ndiaye, editor-in-chief of TV5 Monde’s Africa section, accused the Malian army and foreign military personnel of civilian casualties during a military operation in the village of Moura in March 2022. The HAC condemned Ndiaye’s analysis as a prejudiced indictment against Mali, its army, and authorities, expressing astonishment and indignation at the channel’s portrayal of events.

In March 2022, Malian authorities suspended France 24 and Radio France Internationale (RFI) over accusations of broadcasting “allegations of abuses committed by the Malian armed forces (FAMa).”

In February 2022, the military junta expelled Benjamin Roger, a French journalist for Jeune Afrique, less than 24 hours after his arrival in Bamako. The authorities accused the special correspondent of not obtaining the necessary work permit, an accreditation that was until then rarely required.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is concerned about the standoffs between Mali and the French media and calls for constructive engagement. The media play a vital role in the realisation of citizens right to access information and in promoting enlightened public debate. The knee-jerk suspensions, as first resort by the junta, is unhealthy and must give way to an opportunity for the media to rectify the alleged error or misrepresentation, publish a rejoinder, retract and apologise, as the case may demand.

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