Minister raps RSF over ‘press harassment’ claims

KIGALI - The Minister of Information in the Office of the Prime Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, has lashed out at a report by Reporters Without Boarders (RSF), a Paris-based watchdog, saying they lack objectivity. She was reacting to the release posted on the web Tuesday by the organisation castigating her recent decision to sideline some three journalists from the celebrations to mark the World Press Freedom day.
Louise Mushikiwabo.
Louise Mushikiwabo.

KIGALI - The Minister of Information in the Office of the Prime Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, has lashed out at a report by Reporters Without Boarders (RSF), a Paris-based watchdog, saying they lack objectivity. She was reacting to the release posted on the web Tuesday by the organisation castigating her recent decision to sideline some three journalists from the celebrations to mark the World Press Freedom day.

“The more I see the reports by RSF, the more ignorant and unserious I find them about the state of the media in this country. They publish their reports not basing on facts,” said the outspoken minister.

On May 2, the minister requested three editors of local Kinyarwanda newspapers: Charles Kabonero (Umuseso), Jean-Gualbert Burasa (Rushyashya) and John-Bosco Gasasira of Umuvugizi, to leave the event which was taking place at Kigali Serena Hotel.

“That incident is totally and completely justified; it is imperative that our media goes by the ethics to which journalism is bound otherwise we shall never have professional media practitioners,” she said by phone yesterday evening.

RSF claims that this act by the minister portrays the highest degree of contempt and aggressiveness towards journalists by the government.

“All the claims by this organisation are based on unfounded facts. They demonstrate the highest degree of subjectivity by any credible media organisation,” she added.

She urged the organisation to take a look back at the articles that have been previously written and published in the aforementioned newspapers.

“These journalists act as judges in their articles and that is the reason why I decided to sideline them from my activities…I also urge my colleagues to do the same. These journalists are insensitive in all their articles,” she added.

The minister, who assumed office two months ago, added that she would always hold in contempt all publications by RSF whenever the reports a based on unfounded facts.

She stressed that there is an absolute freedom and respect for the press in the country “a clear example to this is the time the president gives journalists to ask him questions…he sits for hours with them despite his always tight schedule.”

In the same release, the media body also dismisses claims by the president of Ibuka, the umbrella organisation for Genocide survivors, who said that some journalists from international media radio stations that are aired in Rwanda, were fuelling the genocide ideology.

“When you read that article you will further find how careless these people are…they claim that Ibuka is a government organ. This is an autonomous organisation that has its own mandate; RSF lacks total objectivity,” she said.

The three journalists were sidelined together with one Bonaventure Bizumuremyi of Umuco, who is wanted by the judiciary for defamation charges. Bizumuremyi had not attended the function.

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