February 8, 2018

Burundian journalist told he will be jailed if he keeps working

Jean-Claude Nshimirimana (source : Iwacu)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the authorities in Ruyigi province, in eastern Burundi, to allow local radio journalist Jean-Claude Nshimirimana to continue working after the governor threatened to have him jailed for 12 months on a charge of disturbing public order if he ever reported anything about the province again.

Nshimirimana, who works for privately-owned Radio Isanganiro, was summoned and threatened by the governor yesterday, one day after the radio station carried a report by him about discontent among school principals and teachers in Ruyigi at being asked to pay an additional “voluntary” tax to help fund general elections in Burundi in 2020.

These threats are completely unacceptable,” RSF said. “The Ruyigi provincial authorities cannot censor a journalist on the grounds that his reporting does not suit them. Such action is clearly arbitrary because it aims to gag the media and deprive the public of its right to be informed. Journalists are not trouble-makers. They are just messengers, they provide information, and that is not a crime.

Nshimirimana said the governor and the head of the provincial branch of the National Intelligence Service (SNR) had also asked him to give them the names of the teachers opposed to paying the additional tax.

When contacted by other journalists, the governor accused Nshimirimana of lying about what the authorities said and of “aiming to destabilize the country” in his reporting.

Burundi is ranked 160th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.