Skip to main content

Burkina Faso Junta Again Suspends TV News Broadcasts

Latest Ban on TV5 Undermines Media Freedom, Access to Information

The decision by Burkina Faso's media regulatory body to suspend broadcasts of the French news network TV5 is the latest attempt to crack down on independent media and access to information in the West African country.

Since seizing power in 2022, Burkina Faso’s military authorities have suspended media outlets and harassed and intimidated journalists, including by threatening to conscript them into the armed forces.

On June 18, Idrissa Ouédraogo, head of the Superior Council for Communication (Conseil supérieur de la communication) announced the suspension of TV5 for six months for airing an interview the previous day with Newton Ahmed Barry, former head of the Burkinabé electoral commission and critic of the military junta, on the country’s security situation. Ouédraogo accused TV5 of “tendentious remarks bordering on disinformation” and “minimizing efforts” by the security forces to “reconquer the national territory.” He also imposed a fine on TV5 of 50 million CFA francs (US$82,000).

Since early this year, the security situation in Burkina Faso has sharply deteriorated with a surge in violence by Islamist armed groups and multiple abusive counterterrorism operations by government forces. On June 12, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wa al-Muslimeen, JNIM) claimed responsibility for an attack on a military base in Mansila, Sahel region that killed more than 100 soldiers. The JNIM fighters also killed several civilians and looted civilian property, according to reports.

In April, the communication council suspended TV5 and several other media outlets for two weeks after they reported on a Human Rights Watch report finding the military committed crimes against humanity against civilians in Yatenga province. The council also blocked Human Rights Watch’s website.

While governments may place restrictions on the media for national security reasons, international human rights law provides that these restrictions must be grounded in law, strictly necessary for a legitimate purpose, and not overbroad. They may not be used to suppress or withhold information of legitimate public interest.

Burkinabé authorities should reverse course by immediately lifting the TV5 broadcast ban and ending any further attempts to muzzle critical media. The grave security situation in Burkina Faso should not be used as a pretext to curb the fundamental rights of the Burkinabé people to seek and access information through independent media outlets. 

Your tax deductible gift can help stop human rights violations and save lives around the world.

Region / Country