PARLIAMENT - The Lower Chamber of Parliament Yesterday passed the much debated Media Bill after the political affairs committee accepted all amendments proposed by the President.
The bill was passed in the presence of information minister Louise Mushikiwabo who had also attended the committee sessions that analyzed the proposed amendments.
The Deputies unanimously passed the bill adopting all four amendments that the President suggested in four articles in the bill.
“I am happy with the bill. It will serve the purpose since it is balanced and brings clarity in the profession and it is in favour of everyone,” Mushikiwabo told reporters shortly after the session.
The amendments include article 2 in paragraph 7 which gives the green light to practicing scribes to continue the trade without necessary having studied communication or journalism as it has been proposed in the earlier bill.
Article 13, paragraph 1 which required journalists to get prior official permission to publish any information was amended that scribes should be able to collect and disseminate information freely and ask permission only when using copyright material.
Another amendment extended to article 88 which in the past bill established that a journalist is responsible for his story in terms legal action.
The amendment states that when a journalist in the print media commits a mistake, the chief editor should be summoned and not the journalist; in the electronic media a journalist is the first person to be summoned.
Apart from the reporter, the article states that the managing editor, chief editor, the associate editor will also be summoned.
“We accepted the amendments after summoning the information minister to explain in depth about the amendments and we found it favorable. Now we ask you to pass it,” Bernadette Kanzaire, the president of the political affairs committee told MPs who accepted to work overtime to pass the bill.
The fourth amendment is of article 95, which provides a grace period of three years for journalists to comply with all obligations prescribed in the law which was increased to five.
The bill will now be passed on to the Senate before being sent back to the President.