Burkina Faso

Basic Data

Burkina Faso

Official Country Name: Burkina Faso
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 11,946,065
Language(s): French, native African languages
Literacy rate: 19.2%

Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in western Africa (formerly known as Upper Volta) received its independence from France in 1960. Turmoil in the 1970s and 1980s led to the name change and subsequently to the installation in 1987 of President Blaise Compaoré.

The country is prone to droughts and repeated population movements and has high poverty and low literacy levels. The official language is French, but the major languages are Moré, Dioula, and Fufuldé. Much of the population has only limited contact with the press.

Independent presses exist, but markets are nonspecific, and presses often distribute papers and leaflets that are passed from hand to hand and recopied. Media are also on-line, including TNB: Tévision nationale du Burkina; Sidwaya (Burkinabé daily newspaper); "news" pages from the Burkina government; L'Opinion (weekly magazine); Afrinews Burkina ; L'Observateur Paalga ;and Le Journal du Jeudi (Thursday newspaper, satirical weekly newspaper).

Under President Compaoré, press rules relaxed. However, the 1993 Information Code, says media outlets can be closed if charged with "endangering national security or distributing false news." CSI, the Supreme Council on Information, is charged with media oversight. Non-legal constraints also exist. Norbert Zongo, a journalist investigating the murder of David Ouedraogo, chauffeur of François Compaoré, brother of Blaise Compaoré, was assassinated. Four of the five presidential guards charged with chauffeur's death were later charged with Zongo's death. Reporters Sans Frontiérs, French press freedom advocates, were expelled for investigating Zongo's death. The "Norbert Zongo Festival pour la Liberté d'Expression et de Presse," partly a Zongo remembrance, was initially accepted by the government which later asked for festival cancellation.

Le Collectif, a coalition of human rights advocates and local independent journalists, was charged in December 1999 with "undermining state security" when it attempted to organize a demonstration calling for a final investigation of the murder of Zongo; charges were later dropped. Radio station Horizon FM aired a Le Collectif press release on April 14, 2000, requesting people attend a Zongo rally. Police shut the station down; it reopened late in May. Asked if the charges and closures resulted from Horizon's discussion of the president's family being involved in Zongo's assassination, Bakery Hubert Pare, CSI official said, "Democracy is fine, bur journalists have to know that the interests of the country come first. Journalism is not about insulting state officials."

International organizations see press freedoms in Burkino Faso as problematic. The 1999 listing of press freedom from Freedom House: Press Freedom Survey 1999 designated the Burkina Faso press as "partly free." CAF/SCO, a Dutch foundation supporting independent media, added Burkina Faso to the list of countries in which journalists are at risk. The International Journalists' Network reported harassment of journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists revealed restrictive methods in Burkina Faso in 2002. The World Audit awarded Burkino Faso 57 out of 100 for press freedom. (Lower numbers are preferred: for example, the US is 11/100 and United Kingdom is 16/100.) Reporters Sans Frontiérs lists Burkina Faso as not respecting freedom of the press.


Africa Report. The Press Is Free, but Will Burkinabé Buy It? September-October 1991.

Burkina Faso: World Audit Democratic Profiles . 2001.

Available from http:www.worldaudit.org/ .

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Factbook 2001 . 2002. Available from http://www.cia.gov .

Citizens for Public Justice. CPJ Dangerous Assignments . 3 April 2001. Available from http://www.cia.gov .

Citizens for Public Justice. CPJ Dangerous Assignments . 3 April 2001. Available from http://www.cpj.org/ .

Communication Assistance Foundation/Stichting Communicatie Ontwikkelingssamenwerking (CAF/SCO). 2000. Available from http://www.villamedia.nl/cafsco/us/ .

Embassy of Burkina Faso. 2002. Available from http://burkinaembassy-usa.org/ .

Freedom House. Press Freedom Survey 2000 . 2000. Available from http://freedomhouse.org/ .

Freedom House. Freedom in the World: Burkina Faso . 2001. Available http://www.freedomhouse.org/ .

International Journalists' Network (IJN). Repression of Freedom Continues This Year in Much of Africa. 26 April 2001. Available from http://www.ijnet.org/ .

International Media Issues. French-speaking Nations Assailed on Press Restrictions . 27 August 1999. Available from http://www.freedomforum.org/ .

International Media Issues. Watchdog Group Says Burkina Faso Journalist Likely Slain over Critical Reporting. 6 January 1999. Available from http://www.freedomforum.org/ .

L'Association de l'Institut d'Enterprise. The Burkinabé Media Are On Line! . 2002. Available from http://www.iie.cnam.fr/ .

Tanau, Sarah. Burkino Faso: Spotlight on Press Freedom , ANB-BIA Supplement. 15 August 1999. Available from http://www.peacelink.it .

Emily Dial-Driver

Also read article about Burkina Faso from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

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Nov 15, 2010 @ 3:15 pm

I'm wondering if you could help me. I'm looking for a local mining photographer, or lives close to Burkina Faso. It's for a 2 day shoot taking pictures of a mine/people shots to be included in an annual report.

Do you happen to know of anyone or could you point me in the right direction?

Thanks you kindly,

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