UN slams ‘negative’ Burundi media law

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UNITED NATIONS: UN leader Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday slammed a new law passed by Burundi’s government that he said would have a “negative impact” on press freedom.

President Pierre Nkurunziza approved the law, widely condemned by media watchdogs and rights groups, on Tuesday.

“The secretary general regrets that a new media law in Burundi was promulgated with provisions that may have a negative impact on the freedom of the press,” said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.

“He emphasises that the right to freedom of expression and pluralistic and free media are essential components of a healthy democracy.”

Ban called on the Burundi government “to ensure that its legal framework is aligned with the country’s democratic tradition, as well as the international human rights standards to which the country holds itself,” the spokesman added.

The law, adopted by Burundi’s national assembly in April, weakens the protection of sources, restricts investigative reporting and requires all journalists to have a university degree regardless of experience.

It also bans the dissemination of “information or documents” on defence topics or information considered enemy propaganda or liable to hurt Burundi’s economy.

The Reporters Without Borders advocacy group has said the new law marks a “black day for freedom of information in Burundi.”

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