The International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) committee of freedom of the press is deeply concerned about the situation for our colleagues in Burundi.
In Reporters Without Borders’ 2015 World Press Freedom Index, Burundi is ranked as number 143 of 180 countries all over the world. Just a decade ago, Burundi was among the 100 top countries of the world for press freedom.
When press freedom suffers, people suffer. When authorities prevent journalists from doing their jobs—supplying information about weather, market conditions, farming practices and issues affecting rural communities—farmers’ livelihoods are imperiled and food security is at risk.
This is particularly important for the people of Burundi, where agriculture employs about 90% of the population and contributes 40% of the GDP. Many families are subsistence farmers, and they desperately need agriculture information during the growing season.
We are aware of incidents in which journalists have been arrested and had their reporting tools confiscated. Some journalists were killed and many others fled to neighboring countries, especially Rwanda and Uganda.
We urge the authorities in Burundi to allow our colleagues to practice their important profession in peace and freedom, helping rural residents of Burundi feed their families and their nation.