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African Journalist Threatened by Government Official

August 26, 2009

According to The International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), a global organization committed to protecting freedom of expression consisting of over 80 NGOs and managed by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, a Burundian journalist’s life was threatened after he published an article critical of a government official.

Marc Niyonkuru is a correspondent for the privately-owned Radio Isanganiro, which broadcasts throughout Burundi, an impoverished central African nation of nearly nine million. On July 18th, Niyonkuru broadcast a news story that accused the country’s Director General of City Planning, Pasteur Bucumi [pictured], of breaking the law by using a government-owned car to campaign for his political party, The National Council for the Defence of Democracy – Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD/FDD).

According to IFEX’s report, immediately after the story was broadcast Bucumi called Niyonkuru, threatening to kill him if the report was repeated or the information broadcast again. The following day, Niyonkuru was summoned to Bucumi government office, where the Director General repeated his threats. Later, Alexandre Niyungero, president of the Burundi Association of Journalists, released a statement in support of Niyonkuru, condemning Bucumi’s actions. No further information is available at this time.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.