Burkinabè authorities suspended access to Jeune Afrique on September 25, 2023. The website became inaccessible within the country after the suspension. (Screenshots: Djakaria Siribié, CPJ)

CPJ calls for Burkina Faso to reverse suspension of Jeune Afrique

Dakar, October 4, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists on Wednesday called on Burkinabè authorities to lift their suspension of the French news magazine Jeune Afrique, reverse their suspension of other media outlets, and ensure journalists can work in the West African country without fear of reprisal.

On September 25, the government issued an order, reviewed by CPJ, indefinitely suspending distribution of the Paris-based privately owned outlet because of articles it published on September 21 and on September 25 about tensions within the military, which it described as “made without the slightest hint of proof.”

“Burkinabè authorities should immediately reverse their suspension of Jeune Afrique’s print and online operations and ensure that people in the country have unfettered access to local and international news,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, in New York. “The decision to try and silence Jeune Afrique is just the latest attempt by authorities to control what the media reports about Burkina Faso, particularly its military and security situation.”

At the time of writing, Jeune Afrique’s website was unavailable in Burkina Faso, according to three journalists who spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity, citing security fears.

In a statement, Jeune Afrique described the suspension order as “censorship from another age” and said it did not intend to deprive its Burkinabè readers of their right to “verified and balanced information.” 

On September 27, Burkina Faso’s military leaders announced that they had foiled a coup attempt and arrested several officers—the latest in a wave of coups experienced across West Africa since 2020. Burkina Faso’s transitional president Ibrahim Traoré came to power in a coup in September 2022, marking the country’s second military takeover in eight months.

On September 6, Traoré threatened to shut down local and international broadcasters that produced reports on the security situation which the government deemed undesirable.

Jeune Afrique is the fifth media outlet to be suspended in Burkina Faso since September 2022. French broadcasters Radio France Internationale (RFI) and France 24 were suspended in December 2022 and March 2023 respectively and remain off-air. French television news channel La Chaîne Info (LCI) was suspended in June for three months. In August, authorities suspended the privately owned local broadcaster Radio Oméga, but permitted it to resume operations a month later, according to media reports.