By Issa Sawadogo – Friday July 12, 2019.
The adoption of amendments in Burkina Faso’s Criminal Law in the June 21, 2019 session of the National Assembly has met several complaints from journalists and activists who say it targets them on broadcast information about the war against terrorism in the North and East of Burkina Faso between Military and Jihadists.
According to the country’s Minister of Justice and Human Right, Bessolé René Bagoro, the aim of the amendments is to avoid social and traditional media to be used as terrorists’ means of propaganda, National Telegraph has learned.
But journalists in Burkina Faso are rising against what they claim to be an attempt to suppress press freedom, as President of Burkina Faso journalists’ association, Gezouma Sanogo, stated in a June 20, 2019 press conference in Ouagadougou.
This modification of criminal law comes more than one year after the arrest of Naïm Toure, a famous cyber activist in Burkina Faso. On July 3, 2018, he was sentenced to two months in jail, reports say.
Naïm Toure was accused through a publication on his Facebook page to shutting down the morale of the troops in the battlefield. He was asking the military to protest in order for the authorities to evacuate their comrade wounded at the war zone.
As National Telegraph noticed, many persons in Burkina Faso think that Naïm Toure is the main target of this new amendment. According to a speech at the parliament, the day these new provisions of criminal law were adopted, Minister René pointed fingers at social media users who are not trained as journalists or communicators but are challenging professionals.
The Minister also said journalists doing their job with professionalism don’t have to be worried about this legal move. However, journalists say the Minister’s assurance is only a smokescreen as they insist the law targets them.