#Civil Rights
H.E Pierre Nkurunziza, President of Burundi

The objective of the petition is to ask to President Pierre Nkurunziza not to sign the Press Law recently voted by the Parliament of Burundi. It is a dangerous law in the sense:

- it undermines the principle of protection of sources of information;

- it restricts drastically the topics that can be covered by journalists reports ( without any precision, it requires journalists to refrain from reporting information that could affect “national unity; public order and security; morality and good conduct; honor and human dignity; national sovereignty; the privacy of individuals; the presumption of innocence; the credit of the state and the national economy);

- it imposes extortionate fines that Burundi media are unable to afford.

Excellency the President of the Republic of Burundi,

We are sending you, in last resort, this petition with the aim to ask you to initiate a consultation process that allows different stakeholders to reach an appropriate law on press worthy of the spirit of the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi, the Arusha Agreement and the various international instruments to which Burundi is a party.

Indeed, Your Excellency Mr. President, the amendment of the law is usually dictated by the desire to address issues arising from the current law or to improve the deficient or distanced provisions from the reality. We note that the bill already passed by both chambers, is regressive in that it undermines the universal pillar of freedom of the press which is the protection of sources. The project introduces provisions closer to the limit of absurdity including the requirement of particular degrees for the exercise of the profession of journalist.

The heavy fine proposed in the project is also a source of major concern since it has been used in other places to muzzle the press.

Excellency the President,

Freedom of press is a genuine indicator of democratic exercise. Attach on freedom of press in our country will dramatically discredit the institutions of the Republic of Burundi and will seriously damage the image of our country not to mention the devastating impact it will have on the lives of citizens in general. Indeed, freedom of press and expression are necessary conditions for the realization of the principles of transparency and accountability as provided for in the Constitution (art .18 paragraph 2 of the Constitution).

The latter are prerequisites to the promotion and protection of human rights. This bill raises more concern in as much as we know that we are on the eve of major appointments such as the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms, the forthcoming revision of the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi and general elections to take place in 2015.

Excellency the President,

We, the signatories of this petition, ask with the utmost insistence not to enact legislation that in any way will not be applicable and will only discredit the country.

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The Against Retrograde Bill on The Press in Burundi petition to H.E Pierre Nkurunziza, President of Burundi was written by Pacifique NININAHAZWE and is in the category Civil Rights at GoPetition.