Journalists threatened and attacked; HRD detained; protest banned

Burkina Faso military leader, Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba speaks during a news conference with Ivory Coast's President Ouattara in Abidjan, 5th September 2022. REUTERS/Luc Gnago


HRD detained

In a statement on 5th September 2022, social movement Balai Citoyen said that Ollo Matthias Kambou, also known as Kamao, was abducted by unknown individuals. In a later statement, the social movement confirmed that Kambou, member of the movement's national coordination, had been detained by gendarmes. Although the motives for the arrest remain unclear at the time of writing, they might be related to his comments during a broadcast by Radio Oméga. The activist participated in a special programme organised by the radio station to evaluate the military authorities since the military coup of 24th January 2022.


Journalists threatened, attacked

Former editor for the newspaper L'Événement and news commentator Newton Ahmed Barry was threatened in an audio clip dated 10th June 2022 and widely shared on social media networks. In the local Mooré language, a voice called the journalist a "terrorist" who "does not deserve to live" and threatened to “organise a hundred people and invade his house. We are going to set fire to it and then destroy everything and collect the rubble that is piled up”. Barry, who spoke to the Committee to protect Journalists (CPJ), believes that the threats might stem from comments he made during a broadcast of the programme "Surface de vérité", aired on TV station BF1 on 19th May 2022. In the broadcast he criticised the collaboration of the Malian government with the Russian mercenary group Wagner. 

In a statement on 18th July 2022, the Cybercrime Central Brigade said they had arrested a local trader for "defamation, public insults, incitement to violence and private property". 

Other journalists in Burkina Faso have been threatened or attacked in the past few months. On 24th May 2022, a local sports official in Banfora, Comoe province, threatened sports journalist Besséri Ouattara, who works for the newspaper L’Express du Faso. The sports official gave the journalist three days to leave the city for his reporting on the refusal by the regional football team to play at the national football cup semi-final over unpaid salaries and bonuses. On 19th May 2022, TV station BF1 journalist Luc Pagbelguem was assaulted by bodyguards of Burkina Faso's Prime Minister Albert Ouédraogo while covering an event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Centre for Economic and Social Policy Analysis, a government office. The bodyguards approached the journalist while he was filming, ordered him to stop recording and to leave the podium. Pagbelguem was grabbed and pulled down when he asked why he should leave. The security detail then ordered him to leave the venue. The director of communication for the Prime Minister's office called him later to apologise. 

Journalist expelled from a public meeting

During a public meeting in Ouagadougou on 14th May 2022, organised by the Coalition of African Patriots of Burkina Faso (COPA-BF), journalist for TV5 Monde Fanny Naoro-Kabré was singled out and addressed by speaker and activist Kémi Séba of the Pan-African organisation Urgences Panafricaniste, who said ”with due respect to you – you being a woman, I owe you respect – I will ask security to remove TV5 Monde. I do not want TV5 here”. The journalist left the public meeting voluntarily. Naoro-Kabré, who spoke with CPJ, said that she had obtained permission the previous day from the organisers to report on the meeting, and was told that she could not speak with Séba after the meeting "so as not to escalate the situation”. COPA-BF is a civil society platform that campaigns against the French military presence in the Sahel region.

Peaceful Assembly

Protests against presence of French military troops

On 30th July 2022, dozens of people gathered in front of the memorial of former president Thomas Sankara in Ouagadougou to demand an end to the French military presence in Burkina Faso and the termination of military and economic cooperation agreements with France. The protest was organised by the newly formed coalition "M30 Naaba Wobgo", which consists of political parties and civil society organisations. On 12th August 2022, a protest by M30 Naaba Wobgo in Ouagadougou to demand the departure of the French ambassador and French military troops in Burkina Faso was dispersed by police, who reportedly used tear gas. According to news reports, a protest in Bobo-Dioulasso, which was banned by authorities, was likewise dispersed by police officers. On 26th August 2022, coordinator for M30 Naaba Wobgo, Monique Yéli Kam, and another protesterappeared before a court in Ouagadougou on accusations of "participation in a non-authorised protest", where the case was postponed to 16th September 2022. 

Protest to demand the "complete" release of former president Kaboré banned

A protest planned for 28th May 2022, to demand the "complete" release of deposed president Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was banned by local authorities, who invoked security reasons for the ban. Kaboré was detained during the military coup of 24th January 2022, and released from house arrest in April 2022. However, according to Kaboré's political party, Mouvement du peuple pour le progrès (MPP), restrictive measures continued to be imposed on the former president at the time of the protest.