Monday, July 22, 2019

BBC shutting down its news bureau in Bujumbura in Burundi after the Burundi government's draconian media censorship and ban of the BBC and Voice of America.

The BBC is closing its bureau in Burundi following a ban imposed on the BBC in March 2019 by that African country's government.

BBC Africa journalist Nick Erickson wrote on Twitter that the BBC is "going to close down its office in Burundi after the BBC's failure to sort out the issue that soured relations between the Gitega government and the BBC".

The BBC correspondent Will Ross working for the African Edition said on Twitter that "In March the government banned BBC transmissions and anyone in the country from providing information to the BBC."

The Burundi government accused the BBC of broadcasting a documentary that allegedly damaged the country's reputation in which the BBC exposed how intelligence agents of the Burundi government abused the human rights of Burundi citizens.

In 2018, the BBC's investigative current affairs programme, Africa Eye in its insert "Inside the Secret Killing House" documented the killing and torture of opposition members by security forces in secret detention facilities".

The BBC's Africa Eye asked the Burundi government for comment before broadcast but it declined to comment for the investigation that was produced and directed by Charlotte Attwood and Maud Jullien.

America's Voice of America (VOA) had also banned.

The draconian clamp down on press freedom in Burundi has seen the country plunge to the 159th spot out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index that is compiled by Reporters Without Borders.

Burundi's media censorship board, the National Communication Council (CNC), revoked the BBC's licence for allegedly broadcasting content that "put national cohesion and reconciliation at stake" and CNC chairman Nestor Bankumukunzi said at the time that "The CNC has decided to withdraw the operating licence for BBC and VOA programmes will still be suspended until further notice".

"All Burundian and foreign journalists who are in the country are forbidden from reporting or giving information directly or indirectly to the BBC and VOA," said Nestor Bankumukunzi.

The BBC's Africa Business editor Larry Madowo on Twitter said that "The BBC is closing its Bujumbura bureau and ceasing operations in Burundi. In March, the government banned BBC transmissions and blocked journalists from providing information to the BBC".

Watch the BBC's Africa Eye report, "Inside the Secret Killing House" that Burundi and its corrupt government doesn't want the rest of Africa and the world to see: