BUJUMBURA May 5th (ABP) – The Europe team, made up of the ambassadors of the European Union (EU) and the Member States residing in Burundi, namely Germany, Belgium, France and the Netherlands, made on Wednesday May 4, 2022, a visit to the National Media Council (CNC) to meet with the chairperson of that media regulatory body, Mrs. Vestine Nahimana. The visit of the Europe team was part of the celebration of World Press Freedom Day celebrated on May 3 each year.
Stressing that freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy, the Europe team notes with satisfaction, thanks to the positive decision of 2021, the recent authorization granted to BBC radio to broadcast again on Burundian territory. Thus, the team encourages the CNC to do the same for the radio Voice of America (VOA) and the suspended local radio stations, as specified in a press release issued on Tuesday May 3, 2022 and posted on the twitter account of the EU to Burundi.
However, the Europe team regrets the blocking of the Iwacu newspaper website since October 2017 and encourages the efforts of the CNC and its chairperson to resolve this issue and allow access to that site again. The team notes that despite the signs of opening up the media space, the press continues to face challenges including access to information sources and an insufficient opening of the democratic space, the press release relating to the celebration of World Press Freedom Day continues to say.
The day is an opportunity to recall the attention paid by the Europe team to freedom of the press and freedom of expression, which are an indicator of democratic culture and the rule of law. The Europe team considers that the media are the guarantors of the right to information, which should be exercised freely and responsibly.
The Europe team through the EU, the Netherlands and France, are at the initiative of media support projects strengthening the professionalism of the Burundian press for independent, credible and non-partisan information contributing to the construction of an open society.
With the recent lifting of the appropriate measures of Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, which creates favorable conditions for the resumption of a normalized partnership between the EU and Burundi, the Europe team calls for the continuation dialogue between the Burundian authorities and the media because, it was explained, following the appeal launched in 2021 by the President of the Republic of Burundi, Mr. Evariste Ndayishimiye, the restoration of confidence between the press and the institutions is of paramount importance.
While acknowledging the work of the Burundian press, the Europe team says it will continue to promote respect for freedom of expression and media.