• Sun. May 26th, 2024

Freedom of the press is guaranteed on the legal system in all its dimensions, according to an expert


May 12, 2023

BUJUMBURA May 8th  (ABP) – As part of World Press Freedom Day, the Ministry of Communication, Information Technology and the Media organized, on Wednesday May 3, 2023, in collaboration with the house of UNESCO in Burundi, a session of reflection and debate to analyze the state of health of press freedom in Burundi.

In his presentation entitled “Freedom of the press today: A professional view”, Jérôme Niyonzima, director of Rushimba studio innovation, indicated that in general, freedom of the press is guaranteed on the legal system in all its dimensions. He mentioned the principle of the President of the Republic “Never without the media” in January 2021, which demonstrates the political will to renew good relations with the media. He also highlighted the 2018 constitution, which in its article31 guarantees freedom of expression, religion, thought, conscience and opinion. Art.33 of this same constitution guarantees freedom of movement for all citizens throughout the country, art.37 guarantees the right of syndication and similar affiliation and art 275 provides for a national communication council which guarantees and preserves freedom of the press.

                                                                                                                  view of participants

In addition to these articles contained in the Burundian constitution, this expert evokes the organic law of the CNC which preserves the freedom of the press by the training of the journalist, by his physical security and that of his equipment.

The expert returned to the 2015 nightmare which still persists. According to him, the year 2015 was a blow for the Burundian media: a hundred journalists took the path of exile, private media burned and / or vandalized, after the failed coup of May 13. He believes that it all started with the weakness of the political opposition and thus the role of political counterweight has returned to civil society and the media, since the 2010s with the defeat of ADC Ikibiri at the polls. Since then, he said, a mistrust of the power vis-à-vis the media, especially private ones, has taken root. This distrust reached the climax with the media coverage of the popular demonstration accused of insurrection by the power. The media, once acting as a hinge between authority and the citizen, has become the unloved child, he mentioned. Mr. Niyonzima said that this situation has led to the withholding of information, especially official information.

Regarding the challenges that haunt the profession, he specified that in addition to the departure of journalists due to the 2015 crisis, there is an exodus of the most experienced, in search of a better elsewhere to which is added the context of financial precariousness within the Burundian media, which was reinforced by the withdrawal of technical and financial partners in 2015. He pointed out that this situation presents itself in such a way, while to exercise freedom of the press, the editorial and economic independence is a prerequisite.

To all those challenges already mentioned are added the difficulties for the media today to free themselves from the political hand and censorship, but and above all from the media in eternal recruitment of young journalists in need of training. Other challenges mentioned by the expert include the absence of a structure bringing together journalists like the UBJ, the absence of a court of peers to deal with ethics and ensure the self-regulation, as well as the emergence of social networks and fake news management.