The Committee to Protect Journalists urged Burkinabe authorities on Friday to immediately lift the suspension of BBC Africa and Voice of America, denouncing the move as an infringement on press freedom.

The Superior Council of Communication (CSC), Burkina Faso’s media regulator, announced on Thursday the suspension of BBC Afrique and Voice of America for two weeks, citing their coverage of allegations of misconduct by the Burkinabe army detailed in a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The CSC labeled the suspensions as “precautionary measures” in response to the outlets’ reporting and also instructed internet service providers to block access to their websites. Additionally, Burkinabe media were warned against relaying the content of the HRW report under threat of sanctions.

Angela Quintal, head of CPJ’s Africa program, criticized the move, emphasizing that censorship of media outlets undermines citizens’ right to information on matters of public interest, particularly regarding the military’s role in addressing the security crisis in the country.

“The army’s conduct cannot be a taboo subject. Burkinabe citizens have the right to be informed on all matters of public interest in the military response to the security crisis in their country,” Angela noted.

According to the HRW report, the Burkinabe army allegedly killed 223 civilians in the northern region in response to attacks by armed Islamist groups. The CSC justified its actions by accusing the broadcasts of BBC Africa and Voice of America of spreading “disinformation” that could damage the reputation of the Burkinabe army.

In response, Voice of America affirmed its commitment to unbiased reporting and expressed its intention to continue covering activities in Burkina Faso. Similarly, a BBC spokesperson highlighted the importance of independent and accurate news dissemination, despite the suspension limiting their outreach.

Burkina Faso, governed by a military regime led by Ibrahim Traoré since a September 2022 coup, has previously targeted international media outlets for reporting on military misconduct. In a separate incident in November, authorities attempted to conscript two journalists into the military.

Kimera Abdul is a Senior Journalist with Plus News Uganda. He identifies as an adaptable and enthusiastic individual who works to inspire generations. He posses a Diploma and Broadcast journalism and has...

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