Fight against terrorism tests media freedom
With dynamic, professional and diverse media, Burkina Faso is one of Africa’s success stories. The transition that followed President Blaise Compaoré’s departure took place without any major crackdown on the media. But certain measures have marred its performance in recent years. The national assembly passed an amendment to the criminal code in 2019 that severely penalises “false information” and coverage of the security forces that “compromises public order and the conduct of security operations.” This amendment allows the authorities to exercise very close control over reporting and imposes extremely draconian restrictions on the freedom to inform, because critical or objective coverage of the military’s fight against terrorism can now lead to heavy fines. Defamation was recently decriminalised and is no longer punishable by imprisonment, but can still result in heavy fines or damages that can force media to close. Harassment of journalists increased in 2020, according to the Burkhina Journalists Association, which logged six cases of reporters being attacked or subjected to intimidation.
38 in 2020
23.47 in 2020