Media condemnation in Burkina after France’s RFI suspended

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Media organizations in Burkina Faso have accused the ruling junta of a clampdown after Radio France Internationale (RFI), which is widely followed in the Sahel state, was suspended.

In a statement received by AFP on Monday, the heads of 10 media outlets said journalists faced daily pressure from the authorities or “manipulated groups” within the population.

“Telling the truth or just reporting the facts, the sacred work of our profession, has become a crime which for the media can lead to suspension without procedural recourse, or a bounty placed on the head of a journalist,” they said.

A poor landlocked country in the heart of the Sahel, Burkina Faso is battling a seven-year jihadist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and driven around two million people from their homes.

Frustration at the mounting military toll has sparked two coups this year by disgruntled officers, most recently on September 30.

On December 3, the junta ordered RFI broadcasts to be suspended indefinitely and with immediate effect.

He accused the station of having broadcast a “message of intimidation” from a “terrorist leader.”

The statement pledged full support for RFI and said the suspension was “regrettable… contrary to the principles of our profession and amounts to a deeply political decision.”

Separately, two prominent journalists, Lamine Traore and Newton Ahmed Barry, have been targeted on social media with death threats.

The authors of those threats “continue to boast about them on social media and seem unperturbed” by the government’s response, despite an official vow to hunt them down, the statement said.

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