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Burkina Faso blocks DW website over massacre coverage

April 29, 2024

Deutsche Welle's management has called for the website to "be unblocked immediately." Burkina Faso's regulatory authority suspended access to the DW site after coverage of alleged massacres at two villages.

Deutsche Welle logo at company headquarters in Bonn
DW is Germany's international broadcaster Image: Marc John/imago images

Authorities in Burkina Faso have suspended Deutsche Welle (DW) and several other international media outlets for covering allegations of mass killings by the military. 

The German public broadcaster's management called for the decision to be reversed immediately. 

"The blocking of dw.com and other media in Burkina Faso means the people there are being deprived of the important right to independent information," said DW's Managing Director of Programming Nadja Scholz.

"Our coverage in and about Burkina Faso continually provides facts and balanced perspectives. We urge the regulatory authorities to unblock the website as quickly as possible," Scholz said.

DW on list of suspended media outlets

Late on Sunday, Burkina Faso's regulatory authority, the Conseil Superieur de la Communication (CSC), announced that DW was among a number of media agencies to be suspended, including French newspaper Le Monde, broadcaster TV5 Monde and British daily The Guardian.

The "temporary suspension" of the DW website comes after coverage of a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that alleged  Burkina Faso's military had committed mass killings of civilians.

The HRW report said soldiers in the West African state — currently controlled by a military junta — had massacred at least 223 civilians, including more than 50 children. The HRW report was covered by DW's digital news team on April 25.

HRW said the killings had taken place in the villages of Nondin and Soro in the northern Yatenga province.

The human rights watchdog cited eyewitnesses and survivors of the killings, which reportedly took place on February 25.

Burkina Faso authority says reports 'constitute disinformation'

Burkina Faso's CSC said in a statement that the media platforms had published content it said "constituted disinformation." 

Burkina Faso's military leadership also dismissed the HRW report as "baseless." 

Burkina Faso was ranked 58 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index from 2023.

DW's offerings for Burkina Faso residents

DW reaches users in Burkina Faso with French-language content and works together with 15 partner stations that primarily broadcast radio content.

French for Africa is one of the top seven of the 32 languages in which DW broadcasts. The seven most-used languages generate 80% of the weekly usage of DW programming.

Users in Burkina Faso can still reach DW offerings in French via X, Facebook and TikTok. Otherwise, users can also use tools for censorship circumvention such as the DW App, Psiphon or other VPNs.