17 April 2014

Africa: Rwanda Hosts Media Dialogue On Turning the Page of Hate Media in Africa

Photo: News of Rwanda
Media council warns Rwandan journalists (file photo).

Kigali — As the world mark the 20th commemoration of Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda is hosting in collaboration with the Africa Media Initiative a two-day media dialogue that seeks to devise ways that can turn the page on hate speech on the African continent.

During this meeting, over 150 experts in the field will exchange ideas on how editors, media owners, and journalists can work together along with media development stakeholders in dealing with all forms of hate in media, giving special attention to gender and cultural challenges vis-a-vis violence and hate speech against women and other vulnerable groups of people, as well as the online media challenge.

Opening the media dialogue, Prime Minister Dr. Pierre Damien Habumuremyi reminded participants of the role hate media such Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), Rwanda Radio and written media like Kangura played in mobilising the Hutu to kill all Tutsi and moderate Hutu who were considered as traitors.

"What happened in Rwanda must not happen in any other country. This dialogue which aims to propose strong measures to curb hate media on the African continent is one of the strategies to ensure the media is no longer instrumentalised to fuel atrocities."

The Prime Minister also said that preventing hate speech is not a violation of the freedom of speech.

"Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to incite hatred," adding that, "the result of this hate propaganda in Rwanda was the loss of more than one million Tutsi in three months."

Amadou Ba, CEO of the Africa Media Initiative, discussing the impact of media on society remarked that we must not disassociate media from the communities they serve.

On the role of journalists, Collin Haba, President of Rwanda Journalist Association said that journalists had the responsibility to uphold freedom of expression that is also free of hate speech. "Journalism is based on the trust people have in what we say. We must make sure we do not take this lightly."

A new campaign collectively will be launched as a commitment to working together for more tolerant public discourse and more ethical journalism, before the end of the dialogue.

The evening before the dialogue, the media fraternity commemorated journalists who were murdered during the Genocide against Tutsi.

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