Rwanda: Campaigners plead for suspended UMUSESO and UMUVUGIZI newspapers
Kigali: Media rights groups are urging the High Council of Media to “reverse” the suspension of the two tabloids it accuses of insulting the Head of State and inciting the Police and Army into possible insubordinatio, RNA reports.
“By silencing these two local-language newspapers the Media High Council is robbing Rwanda voters of crucial alternative voices during the presidential election campaign,” said Committee to Protect Journalists’ Africa Program Coordinator, Mr. Tom Rhodes.
“The ruling is a thinly disguised attempt at censorship. If the election is to be seen as free and fair, the council must reverse this ruling and ensure that all media are able to cover the campaign.”
The HCM claims articles published since the beginning of the year by weekly UMUSESO are insulting to President Kagame; are inciting the police and army to insubordination; as well as creating fear among the public.
At a hastily convened press conference on Tuesday, seated side-by-side, Council Chairman Mr. Arthur Asiimwe and the Executive Secretary Mr. Patrice Mulama argued that the information which these papers publish could undermine foreign investment efforts as they scare investors.
The articles create the impression the country is insecure, said Mr. Mulama, amid a pile of copies of the two controversial newspapers.
However, during the press conference, most of the examples of articles the Council claims are dangerous were from UMUSESO – prompting questions as why the suspension was targeting UMUVUGIZI too.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says the Media Council can legally suspend a weekly publication for a maximum of two weeks unless the paper is seen as a repeat offender. But the Council maintains it has the powers.
However, the two papers can challenge the council’s suspensions in court.