Burundi’s President, Pierre Nkurunziza, has approved a new media law that sets out new press protocol and threatens freedom of speech in the country. This new piece of legislation was approved last week after it was passed by the House of Representatives and Senate earlier in April 2013.
The law restricts the right of journalists to report on anything that could undermine the state, public security, the economy or the president. Reporters Without Borders has said that its passing into law marked a “black day for freedom of information” in Burundi. In this regard it “restricts journalists’ ability to do investigative reporting, weakens protection for sources, increases fines and requires all journalists to have a university degree regardless of their work experience.” The passing of this law is therefore expected to result in the closure of many media houses and shying away of potential investors.
Ruling party officials have claimed however that the law will professionalise the media and ensure that reporters do not incite hatred in the country.
Burundi is not the only state in the region to impose such laws as this appears to be a growing trend throughout Africa. Other countries that have passed similar laws include: Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa and Uganda in Eastern Africa. Even the regional hegemon. South Africa, is toying with passing similar legislation with its infamous Secrecy Bill.