Burkina Faso: MFWA condemns prevention of foreign correspondent from covering event

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) denounces the expulsion of TV5 Monde journalist Fanny Noaro-Kabré from a meeting in Ouagadougou despite having obtained prior permission to attend the event.

On May 14, 2022, the activist, Kémi Séba, President of the NGO Urgences Panafricanistes, organised a public meeting in partnership with the Coalition des Patriotes Africains (COPA-BF), a civil society organisation. The meeting was held under the theme “Mobilisation against neo-colonialism”.

Fanny Noaro-Kabré, a journalist with TV5 Monde in Ouagadougou, went to the Maison du Peuple, the venue of the meeting, after informing the organisers the previous day of her intention to cover the event. She, therefore, attended the meeting with the permission of the organisers. However, to her surprise, after about two hours in the room, Fanny was expelled by Kémi Séba, who claimed that the French media were not making a positive contribution to the fight against neo-colonialism.

Kémi Séba gave the journalist sacking orders

“I see a nice-looking young lady. I think she is from TV5 Monde. This is a patriotic mobilisation. Since we started the mobilisation against neo-colonialism, the French media have not stopped demonising us, ridiculing us, smearing us… With all due respect, you are a lady and I owe you respect; I ask the security to send out TV5 Monde,” Kémi Séba addressed the audience while giving Fanny sacking orders.

The security officials expelled the journalist following Séba’s orders.

This unexpected expulsion is a violation of press freedom. The severance of relations with a media outlet should be done formally and not by diktat. Therefore, it is not surprising that the conduct of the meeting’s organisers has led to widespread outrage from other civil society actors, the media, and the government.

In a statement issued on May 15, 2022, 11 professional media organisations (OPM) expressed their outrage and disappointment about the incident.

“Expelling the journalist from TV5 Monde is a serious attack on the press freedom that Burkinabès have won the hard way, often at the cost of human lives. This attitude does smack of disrespect and discourtesy not only towards the people and the authorities of Burkina Faso but also and above all,  towards journalists. This is why the professional media organisations strongly condemn the conduct of the organisers of the event on 14 May 2022,” said the OPMs.

In a video message published on May 16, 2022, the journalist expressed her gratitude “to all the people, colleagues, media associations and organisations, as well as the authorities for the many solidarity messages received”.

The expulsion of the correspondent of TV5 Monde from an event for which she had obtained prior authorisation is arbitrary. The MFWA, therefore, welcomes all the support that journalist Fanny Noaro-Kabré has received from the press, civil society organisations, and the government.  We find the conduct of the organisers deplorable and degrading and therefore invite them to offer an apology to the journalist.

The fight against neo-colonialism can only succeed with the support of all actors, including the local and international media.

Freedom of expression, press freedom, and access to information are the hallmarks of a good democracy. These fundamental freedoms must be protected at all times.

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