NAIROBI (Reuters) – Burundi has banned the BBC and indefinitely suspended Voice of America, strikes that campaigners and the worldwide broadcasters described as a blow to press freedom.
FILE PHOTO: Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza arrives for the celebrations to mark Burundi’s 55th anniversary of the independence on the Prince Louis Rwagasore stadium in Bujumbura, Burundi July 1, 2017. REUTERS/Evrard Ngendakumana/File Picture
The central African nation’s media regulator revoked the BBC’s license and accused it of airing a documentary that it mentioned was false and broken the nation’s fame. It prolonged an current suspension on VOA, accusing it of using a reporter who opposed the federal government.
Each broadcasters had been suspended, initially for six months, in Might final yr within the run-up to a referendum that opposition politicians and activists mentioned was designed to increase the president’s rule for not less than a decade.
On the time it accused each of breaching press legal guidelines and unprofessional conduct. They’ve been off air in Burundi ever since.
“The unwarranted determination of the Burundi authorities to ban the BBC and droop indefinitely Voice of America strikes a severe blow in opposition to media freedom, and we strongly condemn it,” the BBC mentioned in a press release.
The publicly funded British broadcaster aired a documentary final yr about what it mentioned had been secret detention and torture websites in Burundi. The federal government dismissed the report and the BBC mentioned it stood by its journalism.
Burundi’s regulator on Friday additionally banned journalists from working for both group.
“We’re alarmed that reporters in Burundi at the moment are forbidden to speak with VOA and consider these persevering with threats to our journalists undermine press freedom within the nation,” VOA Director Amanda Bennett mentioned.
A whole lot of Burundians have been killed in clashes with safety forces and half one million have fled overseas since President Pierre Nkurunziza introduced in 2015 he would run for a 3rd time period in what his opponents noticed as a breach of the structure. He gained re-election.
Final Might’s referendum overwhelmingly authorized modifications that would let the president keep in energy to 2034 – although the opposition rejected the outcomes and america mentioned the method had been marred by voter intimidation.
Burundi ranks 159th out of 180 international locations on the World Press Freedom Index 2018, compiled by the advocacy group Reporters With out Borders. Burundi has denied that there are widespread restrictions.
“The withdrawal of the BBC’s working license and continued suspension of the VOA are additional brazen efforts by the Burundian authorities to silence the media,” Amnesty Worldwide’s Sarah Jackson mentioned in a press release
Writing by George Obulutsa; Modifying by Andrew Heavens