Burundi will ban broadcasts from two international media organizations and expand restrictions on their operations, the government announced on March 29.
.”We are alarmed that reporters in Burundi are now forbidden to communicate with VOA and believe these continuing threats to our journalists undermine press freedom in the country,” VOA Director Amanda Bennett said. “We stand with the people of Burundi against those who are restricting their access to accurate and reliable news and information.”
The BBC condemned the decision, calling it “a serious blow against media freedom.”
At a meeting in Bujumbura, the president of the National Council of Communication, Nestor Bankumukunzi, said the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC). and the Voice of America (VoA) are banned with an immediate effect. The ban is indefinite and extends to journalists, both foreign and domestic, who provide information to either broadcaster
Police arrested a team of the BBC journalists in Uganda for illegal possession of prescription drugs, but the country’s government spokesman said the reporters had been helping to expose corruption, and demanded their immediate release.
Patrick Onyango, the police spokesman, said five suspects had been detained overnight. They included two Ugandans and one Kenyan, the wife of a local journalist from NBS Television who was working with them, and a driver.
Fourteen boxes of tablets had been seized, along with other vaccines.
Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said the journalists had been cooperating with the State House Health Monitoring Unit to investigate the theft and sale of Ugandan government drugs in South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.
“I am yet to find out the logic why police arrested these journalists, who in my view were helping government to unearth the rot which is in the system,” said Opondo. “They should be released unconditionally.”
The BBC confirmed it was in contact with the authorities over the case.
Uganda police frees BBC journalists arrested over possession of drugs.
Sudan’s relevant authorities released Al Arabiya and Al Hadath correspondent Saad el-Din Hassan after he was summoned for questioning following his reporting of the recent protests in the country.
After his release, Hassan informed his followers on via his Twitter micro blog that his personal phone his press license were confiscated. He added that security officials ordered him to come back the following morning to complete the investigation.
However there are the other reports about jailed reporters, who vanished after arrests for coverage of the protests.
Africa came with a score that is slightly better than in 2017 but also contained a wide range of internal variation (see our regional analysis The dangers of reporting in Africa).
Frequent Internet cuts, especially in Cameroon (129th) and Democratic Republic of Congo (154th), combined with frequent attacks and arrests are the region’s latest forms of censorship. Mauritania (72nd) suffered the region’s biggest fall (17 places) after adopting a law under which blasphemy and apostasy are punishable by death even if the accused repents.
But a more promising era for journalists may result from the departure of three of Africa’s most predatory presidents, in Zimbabwe (up two as 126th), Angola (up four at 121st) and Gambia, whose 21-place jump to 122nd was Africa’s biggest.