Burkina Faso | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso

Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

40

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

15

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

13

Freedom of speech is protected by the constitution, and this right is generally respected in practice. However, under the 1993 information code, media outlets accused of endangering national security or distributing false news can be summarily banned. The Ministry of Information regulates all media, and the Supreme Council of Information further regulates the broadcast media. The popular television talk show, "Presse Dimanche," which was canceled by the minister of information, did not resume broadcasting in 2004. Investigations into the December 1998 killing of prominent newspaper journalist Norbert Zongo remained stalled despite constant spotlighting of the case by the press. The leading suspect in the case, President Blaise Compaore's brother, has never been charged and has been questioned only once.

State-operated media outlets display significant pro-government bias, but the private media, including several daily newspapers and more than 50 radio stations, function with little governmental interference. Three new commercial television channels have been established. The private media report on issues such as corruption or human rights violations and are often critical of the government. However, the administration remains sensitive to scrutiny and pressures some journalists into practicing self-censorship. National security was invoked in the arrest and detention of Mathieu Ndo, managing editor of the pro-opposition weekly San Finna and one of the leaders of the opposition party National Union for Democracy and Development. On orders of the Ministry of Security, Ndo was arrested at the airport and detained for six days following a visit to Cote d'Ivoire, where he was reporting on escalating tensions between the government and rebel forces. Ndo is a leading critic of the government's support for rebels fighting the Cote d'Ivoire government.