Commission given three months to investigate BBC

Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (Rura) has established a five-man commission of inquiry to investigate accusations against the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
Women demonstrators march to BBC country office in Kimironko suburb of Kigali on on October 24. (John Mbanda)
Women demonstrators march to BBC country office in Kimironko suburb of Kigali on on October 24. (John Mbanda)

Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (Rura) has established a five-man commission of inquiry to investigate accusations against the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

This comes on the heels of the suspension of BBC Kinyarwanda transmission for denial and revision of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and sowing divisionism.

Rura suspended BBC Gahuzamiryango following complaints from individuals and organisations in the wake of a controversial documentary titled, Rwanda, The Untold Story, aired on BBC2 channel.

Critics and survivors of the Genocide say the film is an affront on the memory of over a million victims of the 100-day pogrom.

Rura, an autonomous statutory agency that regulates broadcast media among other responsibilities, announced that an inquiry into the matter was to follow the suspension.

Genocide survivors have accused the BBC of attempting to “rewrite Rwandan history and promoting the agenda of Genocide deniers which is not only a serious breach of Rwandan laws but also international conventions against genocide.”

The commission of inquiry announced on Monday is headed by former Prosecutor-General Martin Ngoga, with members Christophe Mfizi, the dean of the School of Journalism at the Catholic Institute of Kabgayi, Dr Christopher Kayumba, a senior lecturer at the School of Journalism and Communication, University of Rwanda.

Other members of the commission are Rosine Urujeni, the Indego Africa country director, and Evode Uwizeyimana, vice-chairperson of Rwanda Law Reform Commission.

Uwizeyimana formerly worked for BBC Gahuzamiryango and was a strong critic of the Government of Rwanda by then.

What probe will do

Speaking to The New Times yesterday, Ngoga said the commission is to look into different allegations levelled against BBC regarding the documentary and other broadcasts before it.

“The commission is willing and ready to pursue the task with all professional tools and methods in its reach. Details on how the whole process will be carried out will be released in the next few days when the commission will have convened and decided,” he said.

 “The commission’s work will result into a report to be submitted to Rura with recommendations on each term of reference.  It is not a court or tribunal to sanction anybody. The commission will not seek to alter the status quo before the end of the enquiry in the same way it cannot prevent Rura from taking decisions.”

Rura suspended BBC Kinyarwanda transmission on October 24 following public protests against the UK broadcaster over promoting divisionism and genocide ideology, “a prima facie violation of the agreements signed between the BBC and the government.”

The controversial documentary was aired on October 1, sparking outrage among Genocide survivor groups.

The film prompted an international coalition of academics, scientists and journalists to write to the BBC, accusing the broadcaster of being “recklessly irresponsible” in promoting “genocide denial.”

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