Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) has said that they are ready to crack down on hate speech and hold culprits accountable, especially during presidential elections.
This warning comes after one of the presidential candidates, Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, was insulted on social media. An incident Habineza confirmed via his twitter handle that he had reported to police.
RURA Spokesperson Tony Kuramba told Sunday Times that the regulatory body had not received any complaints regarding hate speech but warned that should there be any offenders, they will face the full force of the law.
“We are reminding the public that hate speech is unacceptable,” Kuramba said.
He added: “For those who abuse the law, there are consequences. The law will catch up with culprits anytime whether during elections or any other time”.
When asked if the regulatory body would detect and bring to account those believed to have insulted Habineza, Kuramba said: “We haven’t’ received any complaints. If we do we shall jointly work with other partners including police to investigate and take action.”
RURA adds that use of social media should not contradict with the prevailing laws on speech and expression.
On the other hand, NEC says that no one is allowed to use social media handles of public institutions to campaign for any candidate, according to the new regulations.
In a recent interview, Justice Minister, Johnston Busingye who doubles as the Attorney General, told Sunday Times that it was important for members of the public to shun hate speech during this critical time for the sake of free and fair elections.
Three candidates will contest the upcoming presidential elections slated for August 4.They are incumbent President Paul Kagame, from the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF)-Inkotanyi, Frank Habineza, of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent candidate.
Presidential campaigns are expected to run from July 14 to August 3. NEC will also not permit the dissemination of mass messages from candidates when the campaign period closes.
Close to 6.8 million will participate in the election from 5.7 million who participated in 2010 presidential election, according NEC.
Campaigns are expected to start next Friday, July 7, and elections on August 3 for Rwandans in the diaspora followed by the general elections on August 4.