Burundi: govt lashes at international media for sensational reporting

Burundi's Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Richard Bagurambona

MEDIA HOUSES SHOULD FACE CONSQUENCES: Richard Giramahoro, Chairman, Burundi National Communications Council.

Burundi National Communications Council (CNC) has urged media practitioners’ especially international media to strictly observe norms of journalism ethics. The call follows an allegedly scandalous report aired last week by French television station, France 3, and that was later proved misleading and “fabricated.”

The Burundian authorities have forcefully disputed the controversial footage and threatened to sue France 3 and the source of the video, Belgian lawyer Bernard Maingain.

Reiterating the government’s stance, Richard Giramahoro, CNC Chairman, said his council is closely following the information published these days on the situation in Burundi, especially through some international media. He warned the media against sensational and fabricated reporting saying they have to bear consequences of their acts in case they fail to observe norms of journalistic ethics.

“The council would like to invite any media organization, national or international, to refrain from ruthlessness on Burundi and broadcast only rigorously verified information. The CNC would like to appeal to any media organization that would appear sensational on Burundi, to fully assume the consequences of the information published in violation of the norms of journalistic ethics,” Giramahoro said in statement.

The French Ambassador to Bujumbura who was summoned by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Burundi Friday to discuss the footage, appreciated the concerns of the Burundian government over the footage and promised to make a follow up.

“The Permanent Secretary said that the images were not shot in Burundi and that this video was aired a few weeks ago already on websites. So he was surprised that it can be presented as events that took place in Burundi. I took note of this communication, I will report to my relevant authorities and then we’ll see how the situation develops,” said Gerrit Van Rossum, French Ambassador to Burundi.

The contentious video footage was broadcast by France 3 Wednesday January 13, and the TV station claims to have received it from Mr. Maingain.

The report featured Burundi’s security forces and National Intelligence Services savagely killing three young men opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza in the North-Eastern Province of Karusi on Monday January 11. On Thursday, Burundian authorities furiously refuted the content, alleging the footage was fabricated by “ill-willed Burundians” to stain the image of the country.

“We called on the Ambassador of France to Burundi to protest against broadcasting images that tarnish the image of the country, the image of the Burundian people, the images that are attacking our country. These are awful images,” said Joseph Bangurambona, Burundi Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after meeting the French Ambassador on Friday.

Bangurambona maintained “we had seen these pictures on the internet, on Facebook, a few weeks before. I expressed that the government protested against this approach of the French media who attack our country, and that it was not for the first time. I told him the government of Burundi takes note of it but that it will act in the coming days.”