Media Laws Keep People in the Dark

“Reporters Without Borders” is pleading with the president of Burundi to keep a media law that country’s parliament has approved from becoming law.

“…its promulgation would have disastrous consequences for pluralism, transparency and democracy in general in Burundi.” RW/OB secretary-general, Christophe Deloire wrote in a letter to Burundi president Nkurunziza yesterday.

Burundi: Media Law’s Threat to Freedom of Information

Like many countries around the world, Burundi law allows for the jailing and fining of journalists for offenses, whether real, perceived or trumped up. The revised law, which the parliament of Burundi — a small African country tucked in south of Rwanda, east of Congo and west of Tanzania — passed last month, would increase those penalties.

Burundi is one of several countries in the news because of onerous laws that restrict media access, do little-to-nothing to protect journalists and impose punitive measures for questionable infractions and embarrassing revelations. Coming in on my news feed just yesterday were:

South Sudan: South Sudan lacks media laws, fails to protect journalists

Tanzania: Citizenry and press freedom: Case of dual carriageway

Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe youth leader in jail for Mugabe slur

And some discussion about Hungary’s recently amended media law: Fidesz MEP fudging issue on media,  Opinion on Act CXII of 2011 on Informational Self-Determination and Hungary-bashers should take closer look at new laws

The question controversial laws like these and controversy over such laws raise the same question for me that judges barring the media from their courtrooms do. Just what do people who have been put in positions of conducting the public’s business trying to hide? Aren’t most of the media restrictions primarily CYA-ing on the part of these officials?

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