CPJ Urges Burkina Faso to Investigate Killing of Spanish Journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged the government of Burkina Faso to conduct a thorough investigation into the killing of two Spanish reporters who were ambushed by jihadists while working on a documentary on anti-poaching.

Burkina Faso MurderSpanish photographer Roberto Fraile and journalist David Beriáin, killed in an ambush while working in Burkina Faso. (Photo: Reporters Without Borders)Officials in Spain and Burkina Faso confirmed on Wednesday the murder of reporter David Beriáin, 44, photographer Roberto Fraile, 47, and Irish wildlife campaigner Rory Young, 54. The three were working on a documentary about poachers in a national park and Burkina Faso’s efforts to tackle illegal hunting.

The men were traveling with an anti-poaching patrol protected by Burkinabe security officials, and although 40 people were in the convoy, attackers outnumbered them.

A jihadist group known as JNIM, with links to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack in an audio recording, mentioning the killing of three white men. Two Burkinabe soldiers were injured in the attack.

“Authorities in Burkina Faso must thoroughly and transparently investigate the killings of journalists David Beriáin and Roberto Fraile and ensure that those responsible are found and brought to justice,” said CPJ’s African program coordinator Angela Quintal on Wednesday in a statement.

“Too often journalists are killed with impunity; authorities must ensure that does not happen in this case,” Quintal added.

Although the JNIM claimed responsibility, Spanish foreign affairs minister, Arancha González Laya, said “that is not enough,” and asked the Burkinabe government to investigate and identify the individuals involved in the attack.

“We want clarification,” she demanded.

Islamist armed groups have been previously implicated in other attacks on convoys across Burkina Faso. In May last year, they targeted convoys transporting traded goods and food aid, with the two events resulting in the deaths of at least nine civilians. Government troops heavily escorted the vehicles at the time of the attacks.

In 2020 alone, armed group attacks led 450,000 people to flee their homes. More than a million people have been internally displaced since 2016 when the conflict began.