New York, April 3, 2023 – Authorities in Burkina Faso on Saturday, April 1, expelled Agnès Faivre and Sophie Douce, correspondents for the French privately owned Liberation and Le Monde newspapers respectively, according to statements published by both outlets condemning the decisions and other media reports.
The previous day, state security officials had summoned the journalists and questioned them about their work. An official subsequently went to their homes and told them to leave the country; they were not given specific reasons for the expulsion. The two arrived in Paris on Sunday morning.
“Burkina Faso authorities should halt their campaign of intimidation and censorship against journalists covering security issues in the country,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator. “The expulsion of Sophie Douce and Agnès Faivre from Burkina Faso sends a chilling message of disrespect for those working to keep the public informed.”
On March 27, Liberation published an investigation into a video depicting the killing of a child and the presence of other dead adolescent bodies at a government military camp in northern Burkina Faso. Neither Douce nor Faivre were named as authors on the report, which accused at least one soldier of participation in the killing. In a statement, Burkina Faso’s government spokesperson critiqued the March 27 report as “subversive” and intending to “discredit our Combatant Forces.”
Matteo Maillard, one of the investigation’s authors, told CPJ by phone that during interrogations on Friday, March 31, state security officials had questioned Faivre about the March 27 report and requested contact information for him and one of the other authors of the report. Douce told CPJ she was not questioned about the March 27 report, adding, “they asked me about my work, how long I have been in Burkina Faso, for which media I work, [and] where did I go in the country.”
CPJ’s calls to the publicly listed contact for Burkina Faso’s government information service did not connect.
Separately, Burkina Faso in late March indefinitely suspended the France 24 news outlet, less than a year after they suspended Radio France Internationale, another subsidiary of the French state-owned company France Media Monde.
Editor’s note: The description of state security officials’ questions to Douce has been corrected in the fifth paragraph.