Journalists missing as Burkina Faso regime targets media


CPJ has called on authorities in Burkina Faso to ensure the safety of journalists Kalifara Séré (left), Adama Bayala, and Serge Atiana Oulon, who went missing in June 2024. (Screenshots: YouTube/BF1, YouTube/BF1, and photo courtesy of L'Événement)

from ISSOUF TRAORE in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso Bureau
OUAGADOUGOU, (CAJ News) – AT least three journalists are missing and an equal number of publications suspended as the military government in Burkina Faso maintains a crackdown on media.

Media rights groups have since appealed to authorities to ensure the safety of the missing trio of Adama Bayala, Serge Atiana Oulon and Kalifara Séré, all who disappeared under suspicious circumstances.

The national media regulator, High Council for Communication (CSC), has temporarily suspended privately owned bimonthly newspaper L’Événement, French-language global broadcaster TV5 Monde, and the “7 Infos” programme on privately owned television channel BF1.

Bayala, a columnist who frequently appeared on the BF1 program “Presse Echos,” was last seen leaving his university office in his car on the afternoon of June 28. The journalist’s car remains missing.

Unidentified men wearing civilian clothes in unmarked vehicles took the publishing director of L’Événement, Oulon, from his home and seized his computer and two phones the morning of June 24, according to the outlet and Professional Media Organizations of Burkina Faso (OPM).

The incident came after the CSC on June 19 ordered a one-month suspension of L’Événement’s online publication and distribution—including its social media—following Oulon’s report about a December 2022 investigation into alleged embezzlement of funds intended for the army’s civilian auxiliaries.

L’Événement announced in a June 20 Facebook statement that it would challenge the decision in court.

Séré, a commentator for BF1, has not been seen since leaving CSC offices on the evening of June 18.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), stated since the transitional president, Ibrahim Traoré, took over power in a military coup in 2022, it had documented a deterioration of press freedom in Burkina Faso, including suspensions of media outlets and expulsions of foreign correspondents and efforts to conscript critical journalists.

Angela Quintal, head of CPJ’s Africa programme, said authorities must find and ensure the safety of Adama Bayala, Oulon and Séré, and guarantee that media professionals in Burkina Faso could work free of censorship for their critical coverage.

“The climate of fear in which journalists live in Burkina Faso undermines the public’s ability to be informed and understand how they are being governed at a time of rising insecurity across the country,” Quintal said.

Efforts to get comments from CSC, police and government were unsuccessful.

– CAJ News

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