- N'Do Mathieu, chief editor of Burkina Faso's independent weekly 'San Finna', has been held in solitary confinement for one week without charges. Mr Mathieu was investigating into Burkina Faso's controversial relations with its neighbours when he was arrested.
After nearly a week since his arrest, Mr Mathieu is still being held in solitary confinement at the police barracks of the 'Compagnie Republicaine de Securitie (CRS)' in Ouagadougou, the capital, according to the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA).
Mr Mathieu was picked up by security forces at the Ouagadougou International Airport on 5 November upon his return from an investigative trip to neighbouring Côte d'Ivoire. The two neighbour countries experience tense relations after Côte d'Ivoire last year accused Burkinabe President Blaise Compaoré of supporting the country's northern rebels. Burkina Faso accuses the Ivorian government of spreading xenophobic hate propaganda against Burkinabe citizens.
The Burkinabe government has not given any reason for the arbitrary arrest and detention of Mr Mathieu, but it is believed that his analysis on Burkina Faso's relations with its neighbours in the sub-region may have led to his ordeal. As chief editor of the 'San Finna', Mr Mathieu often writes about politics and institutions in Burkina Faso.
Prior to his trip, Mr Mathieu provided several analyses on the tense relations between Burkina Faso and her neighbours - Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire and Mauritania. He denounced the position of his country in weapons and diamond trafficking in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Angola and the raging conflict in Côte d'Ivoire. He was detained for 5 hours each on those two occasions for expressing his opinions.
Mr Mathieu also advocated for the release of a Burkinabe opposition politician, Hermann Yameogo, who is currently detained for denouncing President Compaoré's increasingly controversial politics in the sub-region.
Efforts by national human rights organisations to get access to the detained journalist have proved futile and the state of his detention worsens. The Accra-based Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) today condemned the arbitrary arrest and detention of Mr Mathieu without a formal charge and the violation of his right to defence counsel.
The MFWA in a statement today says it sees Mr Mathieu as "a prisoner of conscience" and urged the Ouagadougou government to "charge him to a court of law if the government has probable reason to prosecute him for any alleged offence(s)," says Kwame Karikari, Executive Director of MFWA.
Meanwhile, the MFWA has referred this incident to its newly created regional Network of Lawyers for the Defence of Journalists for advice on appropriate intervention on behalf of Mr Mathieu and also to be ready to provide legal support when necessary.
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