10.04.2017 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

Rwanda National Police and the media fraternity vows to strengthen partnership in safety of journalists and crimes prevention

Rwanda Minister of Justice and Attorney General Hon. Busingye Johnston during the press conference @UNESCO

On 3 April 2017, Rwanda Media Commission (RMC), the Rwanda National Police and UNESCO brought together public order and law enforcers and the media fraternity to address safety of journalists.

The one-day dialogue forum, held in Kigali, Rwanda on 3 April 2017 was opened by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General Honorable Busingye Johnston who highlighted that ‘Professional journalism is about serving the interest of the people when it comes to crime prevention and compliance with the law, your commitment to public safety is highly valued’. The chairperson of RMC, Cleophas Barore, also commented on the important role of RMC in mediating and adjudicating over 200 filed complaints since 2013 and none of the cases were handled by either the police or judicial courts.

The dialogue forum considered the establishment of a national safety mechanism for journalists, based on A Practical Guide to Developing Specialized Safety Mechanisms” produced by UNESCO and Centre for Law and Democracy. This guide does not provide prescriptions on how these mechanisms should be established but rather aims at helping stakeholders to go through the process of establishing a mechanism, ask the right questions and think through the right issues. UNESCO’s approach to address safety of journalists through Prevention, Protection and Prosecution was highlighted by Lydia Gachungi, the regional expert in safety of journalists and media development. The importance of protecting citizen journalists and bloggers in this approach was also highlighted and discussed.

The Police spokesperson, ACP Theos Badege indicated that the relationship between media and police is improving in Rwanda. He reminded journalists to always carry their identification documents, as a matter of precaution to facilitate the police’s protection.

Gender equality and empowerment of the media should be emphasized in the ongoing support to media development in Rwanda which is well aligned with the Swedish support to freedom of expression and press freedom globally’” Said Clement Kirenga, the Programme Manager Democratic governance & Embassy Gender Focal Point at the Embassy of Sweden in Rwanda. He also acknowledged UNESCO’s partnership with the Government of Sweden in support to media development globally.

Participants to this session that included high ranking police officers, district administration security services officers, journalists, academicians and senior government representatives present deliberated on key issues to advance ethical reporting of legal and justice matters, safety of journalists, rights and obligations that were formulated in 12 resolutions. In his closing remarks, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Emmanuel Gasana advised that the adopted 12 resolutions should rather be action points to ensure that impact is attained. The resolutions centered on ensuring ethical reporting of legal and justice matters, safety of journalists and responsible media coverage.

With Support from UNESCO and the Government of Sweden, the Rwanda National Police and the media fraternity in Rwanda are holding six Police – Media interaction sessions at the national and regional level in the month of April to May 2017. This follows the resolutions of the training of police and journalists on safety of journalists which took place in April 2016 and recommended regular interaction sessions between Rwanda National Police (RNP) and media fraternity.

Further reading:

Safety of journalists and impunity- UNESCO

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