Media bill - The Burundian Senate, voting 32 in favour and six against, Friday passed the 'highly-controversial' media bill, regarded here as a heavy blow to the media professionals in the country, PANA reported here.
“The bill, as passed by the Senate, has not changed anything. It is in agreement with the voting in the other chamber of the National Assembly,' the chairman of the Union of Burundian Journalists (UBJ), Alexandre Niyungeko, said, slamming the parliamentarians for their action.
He said 'The most controversial point in the bill is the huge fine to be imposed on journalists who breach the provisions of the bill although the Senate reduced the figure from 10 million Burundian Franc (about US$ 6,500) to 8 million Franc (US$ 5,100).
The provision requiring that practising journalists must possess university degrees and the provision making it mandatory on practitioners to disclose their sources of information were not amended by the Senate.
The bill makes the National Communication Council (CNC) the sole authority responsible for the issuance of press identification cards -- a move opposed by the journalists.
The UBJ chair called on President Pierre Nkurunziza not to sign the bill until those 'offending' provisions are expunged.
The Burundian president will have to sign the bill for it to become law.