Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Rwanda’s Media Law Opens Gates To Self-Regulation For Journalists

Rwanda’s media law opens gates to self-regulation for journalists
Contrary to critics alleging Rwanda on violation of Human rights, democracy and freedom of speech; the country’s recently adopted law on media regulation seems to shame such accusations and it rather demonstrates maturity in the said fields.
Speaking of human rights in which the freedom of speech is comprised, and one of crucial elements indicating democracy in any given country; the new law has empowered the media.
The article 8 reads: ‘Freedom to receive and broadcast information’ states in parts “………every journalist has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the right to seek, receive, give and broadcast information and ideas through any media”
The same or close to these provisions can be found in the Universal Declaration of Human rights article 19: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
The public and Media people see this as an outstanding achievement where one’s environment for free expression of his/her views has been irrigated.
Kibibi Kalisa, resident of Kacyiru sector Gasabo District in Kigali City welcomed the new law. “I like listening to various radio stations, I listen to Local stations and International ones and there is no day that passes before I tune on my small handset for some news though I do not own a television. I’m glad to hear that the new law gives more authority to journalists to speak out,” he commented
Article 9 of the media Law: ‘Limits to freedom of opinions and information’ stating that “Censorship of information is prohibited”
This law directive on prohibiting censorship is a sharp knife standing against some critics including the UN on its reports and some international organisations like the Human rights watch which have accused Rwanda of suppressing freedom of expression.
It removes the fear that was implanted by biased organisations including some international media that speaking about politics in Rwanda, that asking questions to the government and giving out critical opinions against the government was like suicidal mission.
The law provides reason for everyone outside and inside the country not only to gather information for the public interest but also to investigate matters detrimental to good governance in order to help bring order and promote development in the society.
The article 4: ‘Regulation of the media’ puts it clear that “the daily function of the media and the conduct of journalists shall be regulated by the media Self Regulatory Body”
The stipulation is unlike the usual miscommunication that the government controls media and information release. There are some extents where the state could come in as parts of article 8: provides that: “Freedom of the media and freedom to receive information are recognised and respected by the State”
Despite the alarming documents from the west and other so called international organisation with intentions to misguide Rwandans or other countries, the law still applies where necessary. The new media law directs that the available freedom of opinions and information “….shall not jeopardise the general public order and good morals…..”
When destructors stand accusing Rwanda to have violated certain human rights like freedom of expression, little room for democracy and such claims, they forget or intentionally ignore the presence of social order. They perhaps want or would like to see Rwanda in vulgar state, a state that has diminished due to good governance and social responsibility.
Kigali government has repeatedly said how it is committed to the development of media environment,  but an environment that according to the government’s Minister for local government (MINALOC) James Musoni; “ …sensitive to the country’s past…”
The minister also insists on media environment that is responsive to the present and able to keep the society accountable “….working to deliver a better future for Rwandans” Comments Minister Musoni.
Unfortunately, a misconception is that media in Rwanda works under supervision of the government, that most media houses are controlled by the state and are therefore partisan of the government. The myth goes that if a media house is not pro-government cannot work in Rwanda.
Whoever says it, writes or disburse such propaganda we call a myth is either ignorant of Rwanda political, social and economic facts; or just intends to take advantage of the country’s past (genocide) on own benefits though unknown to Rwanda.
The government Official Gazette publication of march 11 released several new media related laws among which was Media Law providing for the media self regulation. The Media High Council (MHC) of Rwanda that was formally charged with regulating the media remains only with the capacity building of the Media Sector in the country.
The new order puts Rwanda on the list of few countries where freedom of expression and democracy can be fully exercised, assuring both journalists and the public with the protection of the law.


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