The Media High Council (MHC), yesterday, described as untrue and baseless statements by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters without Borders (RSF), that two weekly newspapers, Umuseso and Umuvugizi, were suspended illegally.
The two media watchdogs say “the council can only order a newspaper’s temporary or permanent closure if it has previously found it guilty of the same offence, which is not the case with either of the two publications.”
A press release signed by the MHC’s Executive Secretary, Patrice Mulama, stated yesterday that it was not the first time the MHC has found these tabloids guilty of violating the media law and professional code of ethics, including serious offences. “It is unfortunate that organisations that claim to be internationally reputable and credible can base their conclusions on hearsay rather than facts,” the statement reads in part.
He said editors of the newspapers in question had in the past been warned against publishing false news.
Mulama explained that the newspapers had been reprimanded and in some cases decisions for their suspension taken since 2004 in the case of Umuseso, and Umuvugizi in 2008.
“The decision was based on complaints from the public and MHC’s daily monitoring findings which revealed that these newspapers published false, sensational and inciting material aimed at creating a sense of fear amongst Rwandans or polarizing national security organs,” Mulama added.
He said that insulting, slandering, defaming innocent individuals or interfering in private lives of Rwandans, is unacceptable.