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Media bill triggers protest in Burundi

A bill mandating anyone wishing to practice journalism in Burundi to have a university diploma in information and communication sciences elicited protests on Thursday.

The bill, which was passed by the National Assembly on Wednesday, also mandates technicians in the media sector to have certified qualifications in their field of activity.

Fines for violation of the stipulated conditions were also substantially increased, going up to 8 million Burundan francs (nearly US$8,000).

In some of the other aspects of the bill, information sources will not be protected in the event of press offences concerning violation of state security, public order and official secrets.

The bill must still be approved by the Senate before it is signed into law by the President.

In his reaction to the bill, the president of the Burundian Union of Journalists (UBJ), Alexandre Niyungeko, described it as dangerous for the independent press.

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