Govt’s agenda for the media
As the world today celebrates the Press Freedom Day, the Government of Rwanda has announced its commitment to continue promoting Press Freedom “for the good of our people.”
“For this to be realised we have to refine the legal framework, develop media capacity, attract sizable investments into the sector as well as encourage community participation,” he said.
The minister made reference to the ongoing media sector reforms. “That is why we regularly asses the media environment in the country to ensure that necessary policy and legal review is carried out to always stay true to national aspirations and trends elsewhere in the free world.”
Our goal shall remain to hinge on participatory governance on free speech for socio-political emancipation, economic transformation and cultural advancement being the ultimate goals, he added. “Our intention is to construct a media scene that is sensitive to our past, responsive to the present and ambitious to Rwanda’s future.”
He also talked of the government’s commitment to the use of Information and Communications Technologies, particularly the new media, “with increased passion”.
“Government is exploiting the phenomenon to establish diverse intra-communication networks among citizens to catalyse economic, social and political development as well as promote cultural cohesion.
“Our target is to use social media to raise community participation in civic matters affecting them through open debates that should translate into actions. The objective is to help raise community awareness of the abundant opportunities out there while encouraging collective involvement in tapping them.”
Also under review is the law establishing the Media High Council (MHC), which will no longer regulate the media, but will instead concentrate on capacity building in the media sector.
However, some in the media profession are unhappy that parliament turned down appeals to decriminalise defamation even as the legislators scaled down the length of sentence – now between six months and one year – in the draft Penal Code.
At the international level, the World Press Freedom Day will be celebrated in Tunisia, and according to the UN, one of the key highlights will be recognising the recent media revolution in the North African countries.
The famous Arab Spring that resulted in the overthrow of long-serving regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, was mainly championed through new generation media, particularly the social media networking Facebook and Twitter.