Senegal: MFWA urges Burkina Faso's authorities to lift suspension against magazine

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) – The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) Tuesday urged Burkina Faso's media regulatory body to lift the one-month suspension it slammed against an investigative magazine, L’Evènement.

In a statement, obtained by PANA in Dakar, Senegal, the MFWA said the media regulator, Conseil Supérieur de la Communication (CSC), has suspended the magazine for a month without a hearing.

The sanction followed a report in the February 10, 2016 edition of the magazine which the CSC said amounted to “revealing military secrets.”

''We urge the CSC to lift the suspension. We also commend the military for using dialogue in resolving the issue with L’Evènement,'' the statement noted.

According to the MFWA, the publication was about an attack by members of Burkina Faso's former Regiment de Sécurité Présidentiel (RSP) on an arms depot in the district of Yimdi. It also featured a map of similar depots that have been abandoned.

Following the report, a military tribunal in Ouagadougou summoned the magazine’s director of publication, Germain Nama Bitiou, and editor Newton Hamed Barry on February 18.

They were discharged after a brief hearing. A day after appearing before the tribunal, however, the CSC issued a release suspending L’Evènement for a month.

MFWA quoted the management of the magazine as critizing the decision of the CSC as arbitrary.

''Instead of brandishing the baton, you must promote democratic debate.The CSC must present to the press a list of all that is considered as military secrets in our country,'' the management said.

''Finally, the difference between a secret and a taboo must be clearly spelt out, for a secret is not necessarily a taboo.  Is everything about the army a taboo?''.

Meanwhile, MFWA pointed out that as the leading freedom of expression organisation in West Africa, it is equally dismayed at the regulator’s decision.

''Because the military, whose secret the magazine allegedly revealed, offered the editors the opportunity to explain the issue and discharged the two gentlemen without even a reprimand.''

''As a media regulatory body tasked with resolving media-related issues, the CSC should have rather intervened as mediators between the magazine and the military authorities when the issue arose,'' the statement concluded.
-0- PANA MLJ/VAO 8March2016

08 march 2016 14:09:09

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