US express strong support to Rwanda Media commission

Posted by Great Lakes Voice Editor
November 05, 2014
In: News
Written by Staff Writer
Email: newsdesk@greatlakesvoice.com

Photo: Ambassador Koran speaking to the press (Picture GLV).

Kigali, Rwanda ==United States of America’s Ambassador Donard W. Koran has expressed strong support to Rwanda Media Commission, the Media Self Regulatory body, saying: “Democracy and freedom of speech goes hand in hand.”

During Koran’s visit to Rwanda Media Commission [RMC] on Wednesday morning, he said it was part of showing support and appreciating steps taken by the body. He commended RMC for the work done since it was established last year.

Rwanda Media Commission is an institution established by 2013 Media law, governed by journalists to do regulation and advocate for press freedom.

Speaking to the press after meeting RMC commissioners, Ambassador Koran indicated he did not support the ban of any media organ including BBC. The diplomat said he would be concerned by suspension of any media outlet adding that he had discussed with RMC officials legalities of the suspension since it is the commission which has mandate to regulate the content of media in Rwanda not the statutory regulator.

After the public utilities regulator RURA suspended the BBC Kinyarwanda service at the behest of politicians in government, RMC came out strongly to condemn the decision. Sources indicate that RMC is under intense pressure by some government officials to support the BBC suspension but the commission has refused with journalists indicating that the suspension is a threat to wider press freedom and set a bad precedent.

Reportedly, the US ambassador’s visit was, among other reasons, to show that the independent commission enjoyed legitimacy and international diplomatic support.

Ambassador Koran said that he had been told of the existing Memorandum of Understanding between RMC and RURA detailing the responsibilities in regulating content vis a vis technical issues in broadcast media. As he left he asked for and was given a copy of the MOU.

Fred Muvunyi, the RMC chairman, told reporters that while they agreed the controversial documentary, ‘Rwanda: Untold story’ aired on BBC 2, did not meet professional standards, suspending the Kinyarwanda service instead was not the best way forward.