Burundi bans BBC for broadcasting ‘damaging’ TV documentary

The CNC authority highlighted a BBC television documentary broadcast in December
Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza addresses the gathering after signing for a new constitution adopted by a referendum in Bugendana, Burundi, on June 7, 2018. – The constitution, approved on May 17 by a majority of voters around the densely-populated central African country, will allow Nkurunziza to run for office twice more in seven-year terms from 2020. (Photo by STR / AFP)

Burundi on Friday banned the BBC from operating in the country, adding pressure to journalists in a country already ranked amongst the worst in the world for press freedom.

The National Communications Council (CNC) had already suspended FM radio broadcasts of the BBC and the Voice of America (VOA) in May 2018.

The broadcasts, in Burundi’s Kirundi language as well as in French and English, had been a popular news source across the country.

The BBC had its operating licence taken away, while the suspension against VOA’s broadcasts was extended.

Media regulators warned against journalists supplying either the BBC or VOA with news.

“It is strictly prohibited for any Burundian journalist or foreign national who are in the country to provide, directly or indirectly, information that can be broadcast” by the BBC or the VOA, the CNC said. 

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In press freedom rankings calculated by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Burundi is already ranked 159 out of 180 in the world.

The CNC authority highlighted a BBC television documentary broadcast in December, a report the BBC said showed how the security services ran secret torture sites to silence dissent. Bujumbura denied the story.

Burundi suspended VOA because the broadcaster worked with radio journalist Patrick Nduwimana, who the government accuses of having taken part in a failed coup in May 2015.

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