News / Africa

Rwanda Editor Says Suspension of Paper Politically Motivated

Multimedia

Audio
James Butty

The editor of Rwanda’s Umuvugizi independent newspaper said the suspension of his paper is politically motivated.

Rwanda’s Media High Council earlier this week suspended Umuvugizi and Umuseso for six months on the grounds the two weeklies violated Rwanda’s media laws and incited public order.

Umuvugizi editor Jean Bosco Gasasira said the six-month suspension is intended to silence the two papers from covering Rwanda’s presidential elections scheduled for August this year.

“As you know we are entering into election period; the election period is going to be in August, but campaign starts in May. The Media High Council suspended our newspapers before getting orders from the Ministry of Justice. Secondly, just hours before that, the president (Paul Kagame) said in parliament that he’s tired of the criticizing newspapers. He’s going to close it in good faith or by force,” he said.

The Chairman of the Rwanda Media High Council, Arthur Asiimwe, in announcing the suspension accused Umuvugizi and Umuseso of mixing news and opinions in their reporting.

Asiimwe reportedly said most of the articles written by the two newspapers since January this year were full of fabrications and were provocative.

Editor Gasasira described Asiimwe’s comments as false political allegations and propaganda.

He said the Media High Council is a tool of the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front party.

“In the constitution, the Media High Council is supposed to be independent. But it’s not independent of the ruling party; it’s not independent of the government; they are just a political tool,” Gasasira said.

Gasasira rejected assertions by Media High Council Executive Secretary Patrice Mulama that Umuvugizi and Umuseso failed to respond to warnings from the council about their reporting.

“When a newspaper in Rwanda, according to the new media law, writes anything inciting or anything bad, the Media High Council summons them and forces them to make correction of that. When they refused, they are at least suspended for two months. Then if they repeat that, you suspend them for six months. Neither Umuseso nor Umuvugizi have never been summoned by the Media High Council officially nor suspended for two months which shows that this was politically motivated. They just want to eliminate us before the election campaign,” Gasasira said.

Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama said the Media High Council acted within Rwandan laws when it suspended the two papers.

“As far as I know from the legal point of view, the law on the media empowers the Media High Council to do that. The law provides both disciplinary and criminal proceedings. The penal code does indeed punish. Some of the utterances, some of the publications that the two papers were engaged in, I don’t think any criminal proceedings had been invoked at all. I think what has happened is that the Media High Council took disciplinary actions against the two papers,” Karugarama said.

President Paul Kagame at VOA
President Paul Kagame at VOA

Gasasira said President Paul Kagame had warned journalists critical of his government to leave Rwanda or face their papers being shut down.

But he said he’s not a coward and would not be driven into exile.

“Right now when I’m talking to you, I’m a lamed person. My left hand side has a stroke when they tried to assassinate me in 2007. I’m living on medication; I’m a living person who has a lot of health problems because of my line of duty. So I’ve become a sacrifice of my work. So I don’t believe in escaping the country; I don’t believe being a coward. I will remain here,” Gasasira said.

Gasasira described as untrue allegations by Media High Council Executive Secretary Patrice Mulama that media criticism of the Kagame government could lead to decline in foreign investment in Rwanda.

He said most foreign embassies in Rwanda subscribe to Umuvugizi and Umuseso.

“Umuvugizi and Umuseso are the best selling newspapers in the country. They are the only independent newspapers in the country. All embassies subscribe, all investors subscribe. So let them say the true that they are tired of our criticizing, of our independent view and analysis,” Gasasira said.

Umuvugizi and Umuseso are known for their critical coverage of the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front party.

Both Paris-based Reporters Without Borders and New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists have condemned the suspensions.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More