Status: Partly Free
Legal Environment: 13 (of 30)
Political Environment: 15 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 13 (of 30)
Total Score: 41 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)

Covers events that took place between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008.

  • Although freedom of speech is protected by the constitution, in practice journalists occasionally face harassment by the authorities for coverage that is deemed too critical, and many practice self-censorship.

  • Libel laws are unfavorable to the press and place the burden of proof on the defendant.

  • Although state-operated media function with a noticeable progovernment bias, the media are generally free of overt censorship.

  • International PEN, a worldwide association of writers, reported in June 2008 that the case against Thierry Nabyoure, a journalist charged with defamation by the chief of staff of the National Gendarmerie in 2007, had been closed. Nabyoure had faced a prison sentence if tried and convicted.

  • Authorities acquitted the private weekly newspaper L'Independent of libel in January. The paper had accused a government minister of corruption.

  • According to the U.S. State Department, authorities in 2008 did not investigate death threats received in 2007 by Karim Sama, a singer known to be critical of the government. However, he did not receive any further death threats during 2008.

  • In December, there was a demonstration in Ouagadougou to mark the 10-year anniversary of the murder of journalist Norbert Zongo. Following the demonstration, four of the organizers were called in for questioning by the authorities. There was no progress on the Zongo case by year's end.

  • Radio is the most popular news medium, owing to the country's literacy rate of only 24 percent and the high cost of newspapers and television sets. There are several private radio stations in addition to the state-run Radio Burkina, and a small number of private television stations broadcast alongside the state-run Television Nationale du Burkina.

  • Several private daily and weekly papers circulate in addition to Sidwaya, the official daily paper.

  • Infrastructural deficiencies and poverty limited access to the internet to just 0.6 percent of the population.

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