• Minister calls for calm among journalists
The Information Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, has appealed to media practitioners to take time to comprehensively study the Media Law which Parliament recently passed, before coming up with any conclusive stand.
The Minister gave the advise yesterday, during a consultative meeting organised by her ministry at Prime Holdings, for journalists and stakeholders in the media to deliberate more on the Media Law which has spurred controversy among journalists.
Following reservations on certain sections by members of the press, President Paul Kagame ordered for more discussions on the law before he could sign it.
MININFOR therefore, organised the meeting which brought together journalists, head of media houses and other players to brainstorm on the law and come up with recommendations and views to be forwarded to the President.
Mushikiwabo told the media representatives that there is no cause for alarm because the law is still undergoing the ‘cleaning process’ and their views and concerns will be addressed and included in it before it is signed by the President and printed in the National Gazette.
She also allayed Journalists’ fears explained that the law is not a government tool to curtail their freedom but rather it will help the media develop and operate in a professional manner.
“Laws are there to create law and order in the society and in a profession…you should also note that laws can be amended. There is no cause for alarm,” Mushikiwabo assured.
She underlined the government’s commitment to help the media develop, adding that it can only do so with a clear law in place, urging media practitioners to become partners with the government.
She however noted that the Media in the country is not yet proactive, challenging the press to take up their position as special citizens who represent the views of the people and avoid limiting themselves.
The Minister urged journalists to collectively adopt their stand and concerns which they can directly take to the President since they have access to him.
She also revealed that the President is organising a retreat with journalists in which they can present all their grievances for him to respond, including their views on the law.
Members of the press raised queries on several articles in the law which are likely to hamper practicing Journalism.
Among others, journalists complained over the article that states that those practicing journalism should have studied the profession at university level, while some articles in the law limit journalists from doing investigative journalism.
Mushikiwabo noted that the law does not prohibit any journalist from doing their work as long as they don’t exceed the limits stipulated by the law, such as invading some one’s private life and publicising highly confidential government information, noting that not all information can be displayed in the public domain.
She added that discussions on the law will continue until a common stand is reached, noting that the law is a two-way process which will allow the media to operate professionally, while the government also promotes the media industry.
Meanwhile Mushikiwabo revealed that the Ministry has finalised plans to set up a fully furnished Press House, complete with internet, where all journalists will be converging and accessing information in a bid to streamline the work of the media and make it more effective.