26 December 2012

Burkina Faso: Letter to Media Regulatory Body About Newspaper's One-Week Suspension

press release

Reporters Without Borders wrote today to Béatrice Damiba, the head of the Higher Council for Communication (CSC), voicing disappointment about this media regulatory agency's decision to suspend the daily Le Quotidien during the week of 17 to 23 December.

"The reason given by the CSC was Le Quotidien's 'repeated breaches of journalistic ethics and the right to control one's image,' but we think the suspension was inappropriate and that its sole aim was to punish the newspaper's editorial policies," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire wrote.

"The suspension raises questions about the right to control one's image and its relationship with freedom of information. In the absence of a major national debate on this issue - which we urge you to organize jointly with the Burkina Faso Media Observatory (a self-regulatory body) - the CNC's decision can only be regarded as subjective."

The letter added: "Preventing a newspaper from publishing violates freedom of information and hurts both the newspaper and its readers. Basing such a decision on a subjective assessment of a photo's violence is incompatible with the rule of law. For anything to be punishable by a court, government agency or representative body, it should be specified as such in a list of regulatory criteria."

Reporters Without Borders also voiced its surprise that the suspension, for which there has been no precedent since Damiba took charge of the CNC, was adopted without any consultation with the Burkina Faso Media Observatory (OBM).

A decision reached jointly with the OBM would have had much more educational impact as it would have registered the disapproval of a media body as well as that of a governmental and political agency.

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