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Rwanda Gov’t reacts on the legality of media self-regulation powers

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By Our Reporter

Justice Minister, Tharisis Karugarama

KIGALI-Following the Rwandan cabinet’s unexpected decision this week to transfer media regulatory powers to media practitioners, a policy that raised some skepticism among media professionals, the government insists that the move is genuine.

In the telephone interview, Rwanda Justice Minister and Attorney General, Tharisis Karugarama said that the idea is to let the media regulate itself.

“This is the decision that the Rwandan media have been waiting for. I think they should be on the streets celebrating.” According to Karugarama, the state is stepping aside to let the media regulate itself because “government can’t play the role of media advocacy and continue to regulate the media at the same time.”

“You guys, it seems you don’t believe what you requested would be granted to you. You seem to be confused and skeptical about the whole idea.We need you to come up with the body from the journalists themselves to do the work professionally. The government is willing to help you.” Karugarama continued.

“We’re going to amend all laws related to the media for you guys to take that responsibility of regulating yourself. Of course you will need to be more professional and take the responsibility,” Karugarama added, insisting that the move is for the better development of the country.

However, the minister with information in his portfolio, Protais Musoni, said that the media in Rwanda will need to organize itself quickly to carry out the self-regulation. And the government is determined to transfer the regulation which was done by the state to make it “duo” regulation.

“Recently, we shared breakfast with some journalists; we agreed to make research to identify what is needed for Rwanda media to regulate itself as other countries. And that is one the basics to have smooth transition. We’re going to revise media law and the media high council law,” Musoni explained during the interview.

According to Musoni, media should have a strong body to carry-out the regulation activities to enhance professional and dynamic media.

Neither the Gov’t, nor RPF will manipulate the self-regulatory body

Observers note that there is there is always interference of the government and the ruling party RPF in manipulating media issues but the minister denied this stating that; “having the media that is serving the interests of the public is in the interests of the government, the RPF’s manifesto states clearly that having the professional and vibrant media helps in the quick development of the country,” Musoni stated. “RPF wants a dynamic media to enhance development as stated in her Manifesto. I believe that when the media is strong, the government will not have a path to manipulate and control the media. By the-way, the media should not have this skepticism, rather should take this time to organize quickly to avoid wasting time,” Musoni said.

In a 45 minutes interview, Musoni said that his ministry is talking to the non governmental bodies NGO’s and other international projects to help in the activating the process mainly by equipping the media.

“We have availed the Commonwealth consultant who is ready to help. The ministry is also planning study tours for the journalists and also offering several trainings to help the media take up its responsibilities.

The laws are going to be revised as soon as possible since we’re aligning our laws to the provisions of East African Community. It is only the journalists themselves who will delay the hand-over by not organizing themselves to put up this regulatory body and finishing up the research on what’s needed,” Musoni concluded.

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