The World Press Freedom Day 2014: Burundi Media claim for journalists’ security

The World Press Freedom Day in 2014 focuses on three inter-related themes such as media’s importance in development, safety of journalists and the rule of law as well as sustainability and integrity of journalism. As usual, Burundian journalists have joined the world.-Diane Uwimana

 Journalists gathered at the Independence Place after being refused to pursue their peaceful march ©Iwacu

Journalists gathered at the Independence Place after being refused to pursue their peaceful march ©Iwacu

The week dedicated to the world Press Freedom Day 2014 in Burundi has been launched this 29 April. At the beginning, journalists gathered in Burundi journalists’ Trade Union (UBJ) met at the Independence Place in order to hold a march towards the Press House “Maison de la Presse”. Policemen were at the place since the morning. Everyone thought that they were there to accompany the march of journalists. Suddenly, they informed them that they had a letter from the Bujumbura City Council Mayor stating that the activity shouldn’t be held. Alexandre Niyungeko, Chairperson of UBJ indicates that it is absolutely beyond his understanding to suspend the activity known and organized by the Ministry in Charge of Information and Communication. “How on earth this government should agree on something on one hand, and reject it on the other”, regrets Niyungeko.
Jerome Ndikuriyo, Director General of Communication in the Ministry in Charge of Information and Communication tries to calm down the situation: “The incident that has occurred this morning was a misunderstanding. The relation between the media and the government are excellent”, ensures Ndikuriyo.

“Media role is vital if cultural pluralism plays its part as a driver of development”

In her welcoming remarks, Denise Mugugu, Chairwoman of the Press House, the World Press Freedom Day 2014 examines the interrelated issues of the role of media in development, the correlative of the need for security of journalists and matters related to the development of journalism itself. She goes on saying that the 2014 World Press Freedom Day is envisaged as a further contribution to the shaping of the ongoing discussion around development after 2015. “It is our time to look at the current situation and protect our journalists as we are approaching the electoral period,” underlines Mugugu. Alexandre Niyungeko, Chairman of UBJ, notes that this year, media will focus on the freedom of media which will include good governance, transparency and access to information, empowerment of women and youth, ending poverty, and ensuring stable and peaceful societies. For Josephine Ntahobari, representing the UNESCO Office in Burundi, the freedom of expression and its corollary of the press freedom and freedom of information are fundamental rights as well as enablers or facilitators of many goals relevant to the post-2015 Development Agenda.

However, it is not taken for granted that full recognition of media’s significance will find its way into the final post-2015 Development Agenda. “Supporters of the press freedom need to understand and contribute to the debate if the insights are to be mainstreamed within the evolving conceptualisation of the meaning of development and the actions taken to achieve this objective,” she points out. Ntahobari urges that free, pluralistic and independent media, covering print, broadcast and online means, are crucial for a holistic development agenda in their facilitation of an inclusive public sphere for involving citizens in the process of good governance and sustainable development. “Media role is vital if cultural pluralism plays its part as a driver of development, and if there is a widespread informal education to underpin and boost development,” she highlights. Jerome Ndikuriyo, Director General of Communication mentions that anyone knows that press freedom is a right which is acquired and practised in absolute and definitive way but it may succeed or fail. “I would like to remind you that someone’s freedom begins where someone else stops and the public freedoms should respect the rights and laws”, declares Ndikuriyo.

Different activities dedicated to Freedom Press planned this week:

-22 April 2014: Media Workshop on the World Freedom Day 2014;
– 29 April 2014: -March to support the Press Freedom;
– Journalists’ Voluntary actions to give blood;
– Visit to the area of flood victims of 9 February 2014;
– 30 April 2014: Forum on security of journalists during the electoral period;
-2 May 2014: Synergy of the Media on media’s importance in development and sustainability and integrity of journalism&
-3 May2014: Basketball Match and closing ceremony.