Rwanda: Two journalists sentenced to 17and 7yrs, as MHC calls for decriminalization of libel

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By GLV reporter.

The high court yesterday sentenced two Umurabyo journalists to 17 and 7 years respectively behind bars.

The Rwanda High Court found UWIMANA Nkusi Agnes, the editor of local tabloid Umurabyo guilty of ethnic discrimination, Genocide ideology, defamation and inciting civil disobedience, while MUKAKIBIBI Saidati was convicted for inciting civil disobedience in articles published in Umurabyo newspaper between 2009 and 2010.

The pair, UWIMANA Nkusi Agnes and MUKAKIBIBI Saidati has been found guilty and subsequently sentenced to 17 and 7 years in prison respectively.

Just after passing the verdict, the public media regulatory body Media High Council released a press statement. “We respect the verdict handed by the High Court, a competent court of this country,”  said the statement issued by MHC executive secretary, Patrice Mulama.

“This verdict sends a significant message to the media fraternity that professional ethics and values are central to the profession and that these values transcend individual sentiments and emotions to safeguard society’s common good,” the statement read in part.

According to the release, MHC is also concerned that this conviction has contributed to a criminal defamation charge, which still carries a one-year prison sentence.

“We strongly believe that defamation involves damage to an individual’s reputation as opposed to harm against public order. We therefore continue to call upon the Rwandan lawmakers to amend this penal code provision so that in future, those found guilty are not subjected to a prison sentence,” the statement adds.

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