Burkino Faso journalist Luc Pagbelguem told CPJ that he was recently attacked by a member of Prime Minister Albert Ouédraogo’s security detail. (Photo: Luc Pagbelguem)

Burkina Faso journalist Luc Pagbelguem says prime minister’s bodyguard attacked him

Dakar, June 13, 2022 – Burkina Faso authorities should investigate the recent attack on journalist Luc Pagbelguem and hold that person to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.

On May 19, a member of Prime Minister Albert Ouédraogo’s security detail grabbed Pagbelguem, a reporter with privately owned TV station BF1, pulled him to the ground, and ejected him from an event he was covering in the capital, Ouagadougou, according to a joint statement by local press associations and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ over the phone.

“Physically I was not injured but internally I am affected,” Pagbelguem told CPJ. “Since that day, I have refused to cover the prime minister’s activities because I don’t know if I’ll run into the same security official, if he won’t want to finish what he started.”

“Burkina Faso authorities must investigate the recent attack on journalist Luc Pagbelguem by one of Prime Minister Albert Ouédraogo’s bodyguards, and hold that officer to account,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, in New York. “Journalists must be able to cover events of public interest without fear for their safety.”

Pagbelguem said he was covering an event marking the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Center for Economic and Social Policy Analysis government office when the bodyguard, whose name he did not know, ordered him to stop and to leave the podium where he was filming.

When Pagbelguem told the officer that he was recording and asked why he should leave, the bodyguard grabbed the journalist by his pants and pulled him, nearly causing him to fall, he said. He stopped filming and stepped down from the podium, where the officer pulled him to the ground and ordered him to leave the venue without giving a reason, Pagbelguem told CPJ.

The journalist said that Galip Somé, the prime minister’s director of communications, called him after the event to apologize. Pagbelguem said he remained confused about why he was singled out while other journalists were permitted to stay at the event.

Reached by messaging app, Somé said CPJ should instead contact the prime minister’s office by email for comment. Somé did not answer follow-up questions asking for the contact information for a spokesperson who could speak about the issue.