Regulatory authorities

Regulation is ensured by the CNC council, which is made of 15 members, five of whom make up the Bureau. All members are appointed by the President of the Republic. This constitutional body is supposed to report to Parliament but in fact it depends directly on the Presidency of the Republic. It works with government subsidies and it is the civilian chief of staff of the President who authorises or orders the actions to be carried out. The mentioned episodes of the withdrawal of the BBC operating license and the extension of the Voice of America (VOA) suspension were made on direct order of the Presidency of the Republic.

This lack of independence makes the CNC less credible than the organs of other African countries. In DRC, the Higher Council for Audiovisual and Communication is composed of 15 members, nine of whom are appointed by representatives of civil society. The other six are appointed by the public political authorities. In Burkina Faso, out of the 12 members of the Superior Council of Communication, four are appointed by associations of media professionals. This has a negative impact on the freedom of the press in Burundi. Moreover, all regimes, without exception, have violated press freedom, shutting down radios and newspapers, jailing journalists, forcing them into exile and even removing them. A known case of disappearance is that of Jean Bigirimana, journalist of the Iwacu Press Group, who mysteriously disappeared on 22 July, 2016 at the height of the crisis in Burundi.

In July 2005, under the presidency of Domitien Ndayizeye, police went to lock Radio Publique Africaine (RPA). The closure was short-lived due to solidarity shown by other sister media, which decided to stop airing any news about the government’s positive initiatives towards the population. In 2015, neither the CNC nor the police have succeeded in bringing to courts or arrest those guilty of burning down RPA, Radio-Télé Renaissance, Radio Television Rema and Bonesha FM.