To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps the Government has taken in response to the Burundi Government’s recent decision to withdraw the BBC’s Operating Licence for that country, and if his Department will make representations to protest against the decision.
Freedom of the media is an essential quality of any functioning democracy. People must be allowed to discuss and debate issues freely, to challenge their governments, and to make considered decisions, informed by a strong and robust media. We therefore condemn the decision made by the Government of Burundi to revoke the BBC's operating license, particularly in light of the 2020 elections for which a free and independent media is vital. We strongly support the BBC's mission to bring high quality and impartial news to global audiences, including where free speech is limited. The Foreign Secretary has tweeted his disappointment and has urged the Government to reverse this decision. The UK Ambassador to Burundi and the UK Special Envoy to the Great Lakes are making representations to senior counterparts.