Burkina Faso Expels Two French Journalists in a Continued Attack on Press Freedom

Published: 05 April 2023

Burkina Faso Capital OUAGADOUGOUThe Burkina Faso capital of Ouagadougou. (Photo: Wendkouni, Wikimedia, License)

By Josef Skrdlik

The junta in West Africa’s Burkina Faso forced two French journalists from Le Monde and Liberation to leave the country without providing any justification for the decision, said statements by the two outlets.

After the suspensions of Radio France Internationale in December and television broadcaster France 24 last week, the expulsions are yet another attack on the freedom of the press by the junta that took power in a coup staged in September last year.

“These two expulsions mark a new major setback in the freedom to inform on the situation in Burkina Faso,” said Le Monde’s Editorial Director Jérôme Fenoglio.

Sophie Douce, covering Burkina Faso for Le Monde, and Agnes Faivre, a correspondent for Liberation, were summoned to the state security’s headquarters on Friday and, in separate interrogations, questioned about their work. The questions touched upon an investigation by Liberation published a few days earlier, which implicated the Burkinabe armed forces in the killings of children inside a military camp.

In the night hours that day, Faivre received a home visit by security agents in civilian clothes who gave her a 24-hour expulsion notice.

On Saturday morning, Douce received the same visit. According to Le Monde, she was told that her journalist accreditation had been revoked and that the order to leave the country came from the authorities.

Both journalists left the country on Saturday night and arrived in Paris on Sunday.

Since the ousting of long-serving President Blaise Compaoré in 2014, Burkina has been exposed to an escalating Islamist insurgency and has recently overtaken Mali as the epicenter of Islamist violence in the Sahel.

In 2022, the government was estimated to control only 60% of the Burkinabe territory. The government’s inability to address the crisis provoked two military coups last year, which led to further deterioration of the security situation in the country.

Le Monde urged the authorities to reverse the decision to expel the two journalists as quickly as possible and “immediately restore the conditions for independent reporting in the country”.