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Burkina Faso expels 2 French journalists

April 2, 2023

The French dailies Liberation and Le Monde said authorities did not give a reason for the expulsion. Relations between Paris and Ouagadougou have been strained since two military coups last year.

Journalists in Burkina Faso
Ouagadougou has expelled two Burkina Faso correspondents working for French dailies Le Monde and LiberationImage: Zoeringer/Imagespic Agency/IMAGO

Burkina Faso has expelled journalists working for the Le Monde and Liberation newspapers, the two French dailies said on Sunday.

Le Monde Afrique correspondent Sophie Douce and Liberation correspondent Agnes Faivre were expelled from Burkina Faso on Saturday, according to the two newspapers, and arrived in Paris on Sunday morning.

Le Monde said it "condemns in the strongest terms" the "arbitrary decision" to expel the journalists.

Liberation said the deportations were "absolutely unjustified expulsions" and suggested they were linked to an investigation into abuse by the military.

What else do we know about the expulsion of the two correspondents?

The two newspapers reported that their correspondents were visited by a plainclothes security officer that told them they had 24 hours to leave the country. The officer did not provide any written documentation and no reason was given for the expulsion, Le Monde and Liberation said.

According to Le Monde and Liberation, Faivre and Douce were separately interrogated by the same officer on Friday for over an hour each. They were asked about an article published by Liberation on March 27 that documented a video showing the apparent execution of a number of children and adolescents, according to the dailies.

Liberation cited Burkina Faso social media reports as saying that the two journalists were accused of "infiltrating" the country, having been paid "large sums" to produce "false testimonies."

Le Monde called the expulsion "inacceptable" and said it had marked a "further major setback for freedom of information" in Burkina Faso. Liberation said it "categorically" opposed the "ridiculous allegations" against its correspondent, and argued that the move was a "sign of weakness" on the part of the government in Ouagadougou.

Man looking at a TV showing error message in place of France 24 broadcast
Ouagadougou blocked French broadcaster France 24 and radio station Radio France Internationale over coverage of the country's Islamist insurgencyImage: Olympia De Maismont/AFP

French media blocked

On Monday, Burkina Faso authorities also blocked the France 24 broadcaster after it interviewed the head of al-Qaeda's local affiliate in North Africa and the Sahel.

In December 2022, Burkina Faso also suspended Radio France Internationale, accusing it of airing a "message of intimidation" from a "terrorist chief." The radio station belongs to the same media group as France 24.

France 24 and Radio France Internationale have also been suspended in neighboring Mali.

Last year, Burkina Faso saw two military coups amid instability caused by an Islamist insurgency in the north of the country. Thousands have been killed by militants linked to Al-Qaeda and the so-called "Islamic State" group.

According to Le Monde, members of both foreign and local press have been regularly summoned by the country's Communications Ministry over coverage of counter-insurgency efforts since the coups.

Earlier this year, France withdrew troops from the country at Ouagadougou's request. French forces had been in Burkina Faso since 2018.

sdi/sms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)