• Sun. May 19th, 2024

World Press Freedom Day has been celebrated


May 10, 2024

BUJUMBURA/GITEGA/RUMONGE, May 6th (ABP) – Burundi joined the rest of the world in celebrating May 3, 2024, International Press Freedom Day.

In Bujumbura City Council, that day was celebrated at the Press House. In his speech for the occasion, the Assistant to the Minister in charge of communication, Thierry Kitamoya noted that that day is always an opportunity to take stock. At a time when that day is dedicated to reflection on climate change and its consequences on the lives of the population, Mr. Kitamoya indicated that the contribution of media professionals to raising awareness among the population on the practices and decisions to be taken at that crucial time, is very important.

The Minister’s assistant also indicated that the government is committed to the freedom of journalists to exercise their profession in peace. To do that, he announced that political decision-makers will look into revising the press law, a revision proposed by the supervisory ministry.

The president of the Press center, Mrs. Mireille Kanyange, for her part, took up a series of challenges facing media professionals. Those include political and economic pressures, limited access to information sources, the absence of an employment contract, the absence of social security and the obsolescence of equipment. She also underlined that the non-existence of an association of all journalists constitutes an obstacle when it comes to complaints in the event of legal disputes when journalists are the victims. Ms. Kanyange took the opportunity to ask that the texts of the next press law under review include clauses guaranteeing the decriminalization of press offenses and easy access to sources of information, especially public authorities. But also, that it be taken into consideration of gender, so that women can enjoy representation equivalent to that of men in the press organs.

                                                                                Family photo of journalists working in Gitega

In Gitega province, journalists working in that province, with the support of the association of women journalists in Burundi, joined other journalists from around the world to celebrate the world day dedicated to press freedom. During that celebration, discussions focused on the state of press freedom in Gitega and the brotherhood of journalists working in that province.

The journalists greeted the holders of the information who welcomed them. They also indicated that the profession of journalism is handicapped by several obstacles, notably economic pressure on press organs, political constraints on the holders or sources of information, the proliferation of media, the lack of training for new journalists, etc.

Based on those challenges, journalists working in the political capital of the country agreed to set up a framework for exchanges to strengthen capacities and strengthen brotherhood. They also wanted there to be the decentralization of the National Communication Council (CNC) and the establishment of a branch of the press house in Gitega in order to benefit from training in the same way as journalists working in the economic capital of Burundi.

In connection with the strengthening of brotherhood, those journalists agreed to respect themselves and others following the editorial lines of their media and to share knowledge related to the profession of journalism. The discussion session ended with sharing a drink.

In Rumonge province, journalists from the southern region of the country met in Rumonge to celebrate International Press Freedom Day. That day was an opportunity for the journalists present to discuss the situation of press freedom. The interventions provided by the participants showed that press freedom faces obstacles. It is sometimes limited and journalists are often victims of legal proceedings, trials or convictions while they were exercising their profession.

The birth of press organizations with limited financial means also constitutes a problem for press freedom. Those media are not able to pay their employees and that an unpaid journalist is easy to manipulate, they raised. The refusal of those responsible for provincial services to provide information was also reported as a barrier to press freedom. It is in that context that the journalists participating in the discussions asked the administration represented by the administrator of the Rumonge commune and the president of the Rumonge municipal council during that debate, to organize for the heads of provincial services, awareness sessions on the importance of close collaboration with the media.

The administrator of the Rumonge commune, Augustin Minani, praised the role of journalists in raising public awareness of what is necessary, pointing out that a journalist must avoid political interference to properly exercise his profession. Otherwise, he said, the journalist is considered to be in default, hence the convictions. He did not forget to recall that the electoral period is close, a period characterized according to Minani, by temptations to journalists. He advised them to use the ethics learned in order to avoid any kind of manipulation and to maintain neutrality when processing information.