Press freedom

Dan Walker interviews Cricket World Cup hero Ben Stokes

Winning the World Cup, how family life has changed and dealing with press intrusion

Burundi journalists still in detention 'for covering attack’

Christine Kamikazi and Agnès Ndirubusa
Christine Kamikazi and Agnès Ndirubusa were arrested while interviewing residents

Four Burundian journalists and their driver are spending a third day in police detention after being arrested while interviewing residents in the wake of an attack by a rebel group, their employer has said.

Government forces killed 14 rebels and seized 11 guns in Tuesday's attack in the north-western Bubanza province.

The journalists - Christine Kamikazi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Térence Mpozenzi, Egide Harerimana - and their driver, Adolphe Masabarakiza, work for the privately owned French-language Iwacu newspaper.

Iwacu has said the journalists are still in police custody.

Iwacu founder Antoine Kaburahe said the newspaper had not been told on what grounds the journalists were being held. The authorities have not commented on the arrests either.

Mr Kaburahe added that the journalists were interrogated on Wednesday without their lawyer being present.

Iwacu's news editor Leandre Sikuyavuga, accompanied by a lawyer, visited the five and reported that they were all tired.

Burundi's journalists' union has condemned the arrests as well as the fact that their equipment was seized.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called for the five's immediate release, saying in a statement: “Journalists have a duty to report on unrest and security personnel ought to protect and facilitate this work, not impede it."

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Mr Kaburahe said the journalists went to perform their role of covering the fighting between rebels and government forces.

“Journalists, real ones, go to the field to find news, news does not come to find them in the office,” he wrote on the newspaper's website.

In July 2016, Jean Bigirimana, a journalist writing for the same newspaper, was arrested by unknown people and has never seen since. Iwacu believes he was targeted because of his reporting.

Why have Australian newspapers blacked out their front pages?

It is part of a nationwide campaign calling for media freedom.
Australian newspapers have blacked out their front pages as part of a nationwide campaign for media freedom. They say the government's strict security legislation prevents them from keeping the public properly informed. The unprecedented action was triggered by raids on the home of a journalist and on the headquarters of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, after the publication of stories based on leaked classified information. The 'Your Right to Know' campaign says that without a free media, abuses of power and corruption cannot be exposed. Fergus Hunter is the education and communications reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, he has been speaking to BBC Newsday's Alan Kasujja. 

(Picture: Australian Newspapers Black Out Front Pages In Call For Press Freedom. Credit: Getty Images)

Liberia riot police shut anti-Weah radio station

Jonathan Paye-Layleh

BBC Africa, Monrovia

George Weah
George Weah became president of Liberia last year

Riot police have shut a popular radio station critical of Liberia's president and former football star George Weah.

The officers broke a steel gate and stormed the offices of Roots FM in the capital, Monrovia, shortly after its breakfast programme, The Costa Show, discussed alleged wasteful spending by Mr Weah while "his people suffer".

Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean confirmed to the BBC that riot police had been dispatched after his office had received a letter from the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) complaining that the station and two others were operating without a licence.

The justice minister did not say why the government did not turn to the courts to force the closure, as required by law.

As police hammered the gate to enter the station, Henry Costa, its US-based owner who hosts the show via the internet, called on his followers to come and "rescue" it.

“We have to hold together; don’t let them take our equipment away,” Costa pleaded.

“I am watching the thing live as they break into our radio station,” he cried out in vain. “It is a sad day for Liberia.”

As Costa spoke, the banging of hammers on the gate could be heard.

In response to his call, eyewitnesses say more than 400 people arrived at the station within minutes, but this did not stop the police from shutting it down.

An eyewitness calling from a nearby building told the BBC he saw police loading the station’s broadcast equipment into a waiting vehicle after it had been forced off-air.

Roots FM has had a bad relationship with Mr Weah's government since the former footballer assumed the presidency nearly two years ago.

Before Thursday’s action, the station said it was in compliance with all broadcast regulations, and had asked for a renewal of its licence.

Read: No-one dares to tackle President Weah