Debate on media bills should be expedited

Today, the Government will officially table a set of media-related draft laws before the Chamber of Deputies, all designed to help ease the practice of the journalism profession in the country.The documents include the revised Media Law, the Access to Information Bill, the draft law that is set to govern the structure and operations of a modified Media High Council (MHC), as well as the law that spells out the legal framework under which ORINFOR will cease to operate as a state-run media body, but a public broadcaster, under the new name, Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA).

Today, the Government will officially table a set of media-related draft laws before the Chamber of Deputies, all designed to help ease the practice of the journalism profession in the country.

The documents include the revised Media Law, the Access to Information Bill, the draft law that is set to govern the structure and operations of a modified Media High Council (MHC), as well as the law that spells out the legal framework under which ORINFOR will cease to operate as a state-run media body, but a public broadcaster, under the new name, Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA).

The move is part of a broader strategy to reform Rwanda’s media landscape, especially following the recent decision to shift from a statutory media regulation to a self-regulation framework. For instance, the MHC will soon relinquish its regulatory responsibilities to media practitioners, who are currently organizing themselves to take up the challenge.

Similarly, the reviewing of the 2009 Media Law is informed by the need to strike out or amend articles that contradict the latest reforms.

In addition, the citizens will now have a bigger say in the operations and priorities of what has been known as state media, once it is converted into a public broadcaster.

Most importantly, the impending enactment of an access to information law means that Rwandans will now be able to access public information from public institutions as well as certain private companies more easily.

That officials will risk legal action in case of violation will serve as deterrence against denial of public information. Once this bill is enacted into law, Rwanda will become one of the few countries to have such a piece of legislation on the continent.

While it is necessary that Members of Parliament scrutinize the bills thoroughly, it is equally pertinent that they do so rather expeditiously to help speed-up these important reforms.

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