The Media High Council (MHC)has warned Agnes Uwimana, the owner and editorial director of Umuryabo, a biweekly Kinyarwanda publication, that her paper faces strong measures if she continues to publish defamation and falsehoods that violate the professional ethics of journalism.
Speaking to journalists at the MHC offices in Kigali on Thursday, the Board Chairman of MHC, Arthur Asiimwe, said that the body had carefully scrutinized a thread of reports that Umurabyo had reported and had decided to summon Uwimana over the reports.
“After assessing the explanations given by the management of Umurabyo, MHC finds the newspaper guilty of publishing falsehoods,” Asiimwe said. “Fortunately, we had positive talks with Uwimana where she apologized and accepted her mistakes and is willing to report professionally and respect the valid editorial line that Umurabyo is bound to follow ,”
In a statement from MHC, it is recorded that, in the 21st and 23rd issues of the biweekly, it reported that; “those who are supposed to die for political reasons have started declaring their presidential aspirations and some people have already planned their escape routes during the forthcoming elections.”
In the same 21st issue, Umurabyo reported that, “The president hates those who tell him the truth but embraces those who tell him lies.”
The tabloid is also accused of promoting the double genocide ideology by stating that, “All Rwandans slaughtered each other during the Genocide.”
“These false allegations are meant to cause worry and panic amongst the public. Umurabyo has been given the last warning. If they report unprofessionally again, we won’t be left with any option but to punish them,” Asiimwe added.
When contacted, Uwimana said that she had conceded to the fact that Umurabyo was not respecting its editorial line and that she was willing to change.
“MHC has guided me through several explanations, showing me where I went wrong in the publications. I realize my fault and I guarantee that it won’t happen again,” Uwimana said.
When asked whether MHC was violating her freedom of speech, Uwimana said that it wasn’t the case. “MHC has promised to work hand in hand with me to make Umurabyo a paper that respects the ethical conduct of journalists,” she said
This is not the first time the umurabyo tabloid has been found guilty of falsehoods, as was the case in 2007, when it was summoned after publishing revisionist remarks.