11.05.2016 - Communication & Information Sector

Rwandan police officers and journalists committed to improve their working relationship


When an attack is perpetrated against a journalist, it is not only a crime against the individual and more explicitly its profession, but rather against something much wider: namely, the free flow of information and ideas in society. Rwanda National Police Officers and media practitioners showed their dedication to improving the safety of journalists during the workshop “Safety of Journalists and Public Order”, which was held from 21 to 23 April 2016 at the Rwanda National Police Headquarters in Kigali, Rwanda.

The workshop aimed to reinforce support for the citizen’s right to freedom of expression, through strengthening the professional relationship of police officers and journalists, thus promoting and defending safety of journalists. A total of 45 police officers and 30 media practitioners participated in the three-day training, which led to the agreement of developing a code of conduct or operational procedures outlining how the Police and the media can work closely to better serve the public, and to conduct periodic workshops to evaluate progress.

The Rwandan journalists and police officers were trained by Commander Ian Lafrenière from the Montréal Municipal Police Force from Montréal in Canada who is both a serving police officer, as well as an expert in public communications. They shared their experiences in honesty, and explored the role of the Police in improving the safety of journalists, for example by helping them to access essential information, offering practical tools when covering in conflict situations and developing guidelines around covering judicial proceedings.

During the opening session of the workshop, Cleophas Barore, the Acting Chairman of the RMC, highlighted the importance of a professional relationship between the Police and the media. “In a climate where journalists are safe, citizens find it easier to access quality information and it advances other objectives as well: democratic governance and poverty reduction; conservation of the environment; gender equality and the empowerment of women; justice and a culture of human rights, to name a few.”

The essential role of both the Police and the media was further emphasized by Juvenal Marizamunda, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP), as they ensure public safety and national development by facilitating public access to accurate information. He described the relationship between the media and the Police as “an important aspect of policing that provides confidence and trust to the public. We definitely play a complementary role. Police being an institution that has constant interactions with the public must be on the forefront to efficiently engage with media without compromising public order.”

Peter Wallet from the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa Antenna in Rwanda, further expounded on this: “Accountable, balanced and unhindered journalism plays a fundamental role in any democracy and ensures that freedom of expression is realized in society.”

This was also reaffirmed by Theos Badege, the Assistant Commisioner of Police, who stressed the commitment of RNP “to work collectively with the media in order to serve the interest of Rwandans.”

The workshop was jointly organized by the Rwanda Media Commission (RMC), UNESCO and the Rwanda National Police, with the support of the Government of Sweden.

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