Burkina Faso
Index 2024
86/ 180
Score : 58.24
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
58/ 180
Score : 67.64
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator

Mounting violence and political instability due to coups in January and September 2022 have made the environment for journalism and access to diverse news reporting much worse. The “patriotic treatment” of news and information dear to Capt. Ibrahim Traoré, the transitional president, is gradually taking precedence over the possibility of rigorous journalistic reporting.

Media landscape

Burkina Faso enjoys a dynamic, professional and pluralistic media environment. It has more than 80 newspapers (including Sidwaya, L’Événement, and Le Pays), 185 radio stations (including Omega FM), around 30 TV channels (including Radiodiffusion, Télévision du Burkina, and BF1) and more than 100 news sites (including faso.netFaso 7 and Burkina 24). The culture of investigative journalism is fairly widespread and the first online newspaper dedicated to investigative reporting was created at the start of 2023. But the deterioration of the political and security environment has brought an increase in outside pressure and self-censorship. 

Political context

Cases of intimidation of journalists have been on the rise in recent years. During the two coups in 2022, soldiers stationed themselves at the entrance to the national TV channel, controlling who went in and out, and forcing journalists to read their press releases on the air. The ruling junta has also muzzled foreign (mainly French) media, by suspending Radio France Internationale (RFI)France 24 and Jeune Afrique, and by deporting certain journalists. The government also intimidates local journalists, as evidenced by the month-long suspension of Radio Omega in August 2023. The same year, a PR agency close to the presidency organised a smear campaign against three Burkinabé journalists.

Legal framework

Freedom of the press and the right to information have been guaranteed by the constitution since 1991. Defamation is no longer punishable by imprisonment but is subject to heavy fines, which could lead to the outright closure of the media outlets concerned. The deterioration of the security situation led, in 2019, to amendment of the penal code, which criminalises the dissemination of information about military operations, thereby fueling self-censorship. A reform of the media regulator, the National Communication Council, approved by a vote in November 2023, has strengthened governmental control over the media. 

Economic context

The Burkinabé media operate in a precarious environment. The difficulties increased as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to a sharp fall in circulation and advertising revenue. Journalists usually have few resources and equipment for reporting.

Sociocultural context

The most sensitive issue in Burkina Faso is religion. Very active religious groups monitor and exert pressure on public debate, posing a threat to freedom of expression and possibly fuelling self-censorship. In recent years, topics relating to security and the military have also become taboo. Conflict zones, where abuses have been documented by various media and NGOs, are now news and information deserts.


Violence against journalists by both armed groups and the authorities has increased in recent years. Two Spanish journalists, David Beriain and Roberto Fraile, were killed in April 2021 – the first such deaths in more than 20 years. They were killed while reporting in the east of the country, near the Sahel’s so-called tri-border region where the borders of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali converge and where several armed groups are active. It is not uncommon for reporters to be threatened or subjected to violence during demonstrations.