Government restricts coverage of war and peace process

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply concerned that Burundian authorities have restricted reporting by journalists attempting to cover the country’s 10-year-old civil war and ongoing peace process.

On September 13, the government issued an order closing the popular private radio station Radio Isanganiro after it aired a debate featuring Pasteur Habimana, a spokesman for the rebel National Liberation Forces (FNL), during its talk show “Mosaïque,” (Mosaic). The program, which dealt with the peace process, was aired after the latest round of talks between Your Excellency and leaders of another rebel movement, the Forces for the Defense of Democracy (FDD), were delayed, the journalists told CPJ.

Several hours after the broadcast, the station received a letter from Communications Minister Albert Mbonerane ordering Radio Isanganiro closed for seven days, according to journalists at the station. Radio Isanganiro ceased all broadcasts at 3 p.m. that day and plans to resume broadcasts at 3 p.m. on September 20. The letter accused the radio station of “endangering national unity” by allowing Habimana to speak on-air and said that authorities had previously forbade Burundian media outlets from “defaming the government while it is trying to obtain a permanent country-wide ceasefire.”

As an independent organization of journalists dedicated to defending our colleagues worldwide, CPJ asks Your Excellency to lift the ban on Radio Isanganiro immediately and unconditionally, and to lift government restrictions on reporting in Burundi. The free flow of information is critical to the exercise of democracy.

We thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.


Ann K. Cooper
Executive Director