Rwanda: Defiant suspended newspaper UMUVUGIZI will be “blocked” on the internet
Kigali: The High Media Council has said the suspended UMUVUGIZI newspaper which is now publishing on the internet could be “blocked” from relaying into Rwanda, RNA reports.
The latest threat to UMUVUGIZI comes after RNA revealed on May 18th that the paper’s exiled editor had refused to abide by the April 13 six-month suspension – instead moving to the internet. Mr. Jean Bosco Gasasira is now publishing www.umuvugizi.com where the laid-out Issues of the paper will be posted as well as other news stories.
The High Media Council has also stepped in. Executive Secretary Mr. Patrice Mulama has warned that should the paper continue to defy the suspension, the Council could engage with other relevant institutions to have UMUVUGIZI not allowed to relay into Rwanda.
“We can work with other departments to have [UMUVUGIZI] blocked on the internet or any other modes,” Mr. Mulama told the BBC great lakes service Wednesday evening.
He said blocking websites has not been easy even in other countries but added that it was indeed “feasible”. The Council has not decided on the next course of action, he said, adding that there is already a case in court seeking a complete ban on UMUVUGIZI and UMUSESO.
According to Mr. Mulama, should UMUVUGIZI go online, it will give the Council more evidence to convince the courts of the need to ban the paper.
There have not been any known previous cases where a website has been blocked from Rwanda, but it has happened in Uganda. The site www.radiokatwe.com which often publishes heavily critical content on President Yoweri Museveni is not accessible in Uganda. It was reachable there until February 2006.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported on February 22, 2006 that the Ugandan government had blocked internal access to the critical Web site, Radio Katwe – just days before the presidential elections.
The state-owned daily The New Vision and the private daily The Monitor reported the same week that the government-controlled Uganda Communications Commission had directed Uganda’s leading telecommunications company, MTN, to block the site.
An MTN statement, quoted by The Monitor, defended the decision to block the site, saying that Ugandan law “empowers the commission to direct any telecoms operator to operate networks in such a manner that is appropriate to national and public interest.”