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Does journalist-jailing Burundi belong in EAC?

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Kabaridi, Jun 27, 2012.

  1. Kabaridi

    Kabaridi JF-Expert Member

    #1
    Jun 27, 2012
    Joined: Nov 15, 2011
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    Posted Saturday, June 23 2012 at 19:52


    The sentencing of a journalist to life imprisonment in Burundi last week is a reality check for other East African member states on the issues of democracy, human rights and freedom of expression.

    Burundi as a member of the East African Community must measure up to the standards set by the regional bloc on governance and civil liberties.

    Hassan Ruvakuki, who was working for French radio station RFI's Swahili service as well as local broadcaster Bonesha FM, has been sent to prison for life for alleged complicity with "terrorists," after he visited Tanzania in 2011 and interviewed a leader of a rebel group.

    To jail a journalist for life for simply doing his job by interviewing a rebel leader, is not only a clear violation of the freedom of the press, but an indication that the government wants journalist to operate in fear.

    An attack on press freedom in one member country has a negative impact on the entire region.

    It is true that Burundi is still reeling from the aftershocks of 13 years of civil war and that other East African Community member states have been soft on Burundi as it struggles to nurture democracy.

    But the war ended in 2005; the state needs to shed its paranoia and allow free debate on how to build a cohesive society, for which the media provides an ideal platform.

    The government argues that Ruvakuki was promoting despondency by interviewing a rebel leader, while in the government's thinking, there are no rebel groups opposing the government.

    Yet it is common knowledge that key opposition leaders, including Agathon Rwasa of the FNL and Alexis Sinduhije of the Movement for Solidarity and Democracy, remain in exile, and are believed to be in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Journalists' associations in the region have rightly pointed out that Mr Ruvakuki's arrest and ultimate conviction were politically motivated and the verdict is an affront to press freedom in the region.

    The verdict also bolsters those dark forces who do not wish to see a free press in the region.

    The Burundi government must realise that economic integration, especially the full implementation of the Common Market, cannot happen in an environment where countries employ disparate standards on governance.

    Member countries are about to adopt the Protocol on Good Governance and Burundi needs to be ready to conform.

    The jailing comes soon after Amnesty International fingered Burundi as the country leading in human-rights abuses in the region.

    The report noted that extrajudicial executions and political killings increased while the judiciary remained politicised.


    One can only hope that the persecution of the opposition has not now extended to the media.

    Burundi, despite its many post-war problems must embrace democracy and allow greater press freedom.

    Otherwise, it will drag the East African Community down.


    One can only hope that the persecution of the opposition has not now extended to the media.

    Burundi, despite its many post-war problems must embrace democracy and allow greater press freedom.

    Otherwise, it will drag the East African Community down.

    source
     
  2. Kabaridi

    Kabaridi JF-Expert Member

    #2
    Jun 27, 2012
    Joined: Nov 15, 2011
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    is there a conflict between human rights ideals?
     
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