Two French media outlets suspended over reports of human rights violations; foreign correspondent deported
French media outlets RFI and France24 banned
In a communiqué issued on 16th March 2022, Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga, Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation of the military transitional government, said he had initiated a procedure to suspend the broadcasting of French media outlets Radio France Internationale (RFI) and France24 due to the publication of “false allegations”. According to the statement, “unfounded” allegations on human rights abuses committed by the Malian Armed Forces were at the basis of the suspension. These human rights abuses were reportedly also made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, Human Right Watch (HRW) and RFI in its broadcast of 14th and 15th March 2022. In addition to the banning of RFI and France24 in Mali, local outlets are now barred from distributing content produced by the two French media outlets. On 27th April 2022, Mali’s media regulator, the High Authority of Communication (HAC), made the suspension ‘definitive’.
HRW released a report on 15th March 2022, claiming that Malian government forces were linked to the killing of at least 71 civilians in central and southwestern Mali.
Increasing hostile environment for journalists
Benjamin Roger, a French reporter for media outlet Jeune Afrique, was arrested in Bamako after his arrival in Mali on 7th February 2022, and deported to France less than 24 hours later, on 8th February 2022. After his arrest, Roger was taken to the offices of the Judicial Investigation Brigade, where he was interrogated before being taken to the Border Police, who notified him of his pending deportation. Authorities justified the deportation by saying that the journalist did not have the required accreditation.
#Mali #Bamako suspend @RFI & @FRANCE24 comme si les informations sur les exactions n’étaient pas celle de @hrw et de l’ONU. Courage aux confrères maliens. pic.twitter.com/vSzLKAWwhI— Wassim Nasr (@SimNasr) March 17, 2022
Mali🇲🇱: cette "réunion" intervient quelques jours après un courrier du "Collectif pour la défense des militaires", un groupe proche de la junte, accusant les correspondants de @RFI & @FRANCE24 de "désinformation et d'intoxication" et demandant le retrait de leur accréditation. pic.twitter.com/KG8wqPlCNy— RSF (@RSF_inter) January 31, 2022
According to Reporters without Borders (RSF), several leading foreign correspondents were summoned to the Ministry of Communication of the transitional government the week prior to Roger’s deportation, where they were reportedly told that accreditation would henceforth be harder to obtain, and a new accreditation form would be made available, with no further details provided.
Additionally, prior to the meeting, on 17th January 2022, a group under the name of Collectif pour la défense des militaires (Collective for the defence of the military) – reportedly a group of military officers close to the military junta - addressed a letter to the communication ministry demanding the withdrawal of the accreditation of the correspondents working for RFI and France 24, whom they accuse of waging a disinformation campaign, and a campaign of “denigration, intoxication by making subversive remarks undermining the sovereignty and integrity” of Mali.
Furthermore, according to RSF, the head of the presidential communication unit reportedly described certain journalists as “liars” and “manipulators” at the funeral of former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta on 21st January 2022.
Civic Space Developments