New York, December 5, 2022 – In response to Burkina Faso authorities’ suspension of programming by French broadcaster Radio France Internationale (RFI), the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement Monday condemning the decision:
“Burkina Faso authorities should reverse their suspension of RFI programming and ensure that journalists can work without fear of being sanctioned over their work, including coverage of security issues,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator. “It is alarming and unfortunate that Burkina Faso has joined Mali in its disregard for freedom of the press and access to information by denying RFI permission to broadcast.”
On December 3, the Burkina Faso Government Information Service issued a statement accusing RFI of having relayed an “intimidation message” attributed to a “terrorist leader” earlier that day, and saying the outlet would therefore be suspended.
The statement did not mention which specific report from RFI’s December 3 broadcast had prompted the suspension, but additionally accused RFI of broadcasting “misleading information” about the country’s interim President Ibrahim Traoré on December 2. In its own statement, RFI called the accusations about its work “totally unfounded.”
Idrissa Birba, president of Nouveaux Droit de l’Homme (NDH-Burkina) human rights group told CPJ by phone Monday that RFI broadcasts were no longer available on short or long wave radio in the country, but could still be accessed online.
In 2019, Burkina Faso amended its penal code to require government “authorization” to publish information from the scene of a terrorist attack, as CPJ reported at the time. In March, Malian authorities similarly suspended RFI and France 24, another subsidiary of the French government-owned France Médias Monde.