Survival of independent reporting under threat
The situation in Burundi has been alarming ever since the May 2015 coup attempt. Most independent radio stations are still closed, dozens of journalists are still unable to return from self-imposed exile, and those who stayed find it hard to work freely because they are often harassed by the security forces and pro-government militias, which are encouraged by an official discourse associating non-aligned media with enemies of the nation. “Moralization sessions,” some hosted by the president himself, have been organized for journalists in order to familiarize them with the official line, but pens, microphones and cameras were banned. In such an environment, the media are for the most part dominated by fear, resignation and self-censorship.
Journalists pay dearly for trying to cover subjects that the government would prefer ignored. Four reporters with the Iwacu media group, one of the last bastions of independent journalism, were arrested for just doing their job by going to cover an incursion by armed rebels. No serious investigation has ever been conducted into the disappearance of another Iwacu reporter, Jean Bigirimana, missing since July 2016. The clampdown on the media keeps on increasing. Two leading international radio stations are still subject to an indefinite ban, and foreign reporters are finding it harder and harder to get press accreditation. Social media is used as a reporting tool by journalists and at the same time serves as news sources for the public, replacing the gagged radio stations. However, they are also often used in an attempt to disinform.
159 in 2019
52.89 in 2019