Rwanda: Journalists Tipped on Law on Genocide Ideology

Media should endeavour to have knowledge on the law punishing Genocide ideology as part of the efforts to raise awareness about the vice and disseminate accurate information to the public.

The call was made on Saturday, April 10, in a virtual conference organized by Rwanda journalists for Sustainable Development (RJSD) under the theme "Journalism for development to fight against Genocide ideology" as part of the 27th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

RJSD is a non-governmental organisation aimed at assisting young and upcoming journalists to promote professionalism in their career.

The meeting was attended by people from different institutions, and journalists from different media outlets.

"Journalists should read and understand the history of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi so that they are able to disseminate accurate information to the public and play their role in fighting the Genocide ideology," said Gerard Ntashamaje, an advisor at the National Commission for the fight against Genocide (CNLG)

The media must conduct deep analysis on the content that they need to disseminate to the public, he added.

According to the law, a person who, in public, either verbally, in writing, through images, or in any other manner, commits an act that manifests an ideology that supports or advocates for destroying, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, commits an offense.

Upon conviction, the person is liable to imprisonment for a term of between five years and not more than seven years, with a fine of not less than Rwf500,000 and not more than one million Rwandan francs.

The same punishment is given to a person who manifests a behavior or commits an act intended to harass, intimidate, dehumanize, recall boastfully the wrong they have done, mock, insult a person, or destroy his/her property, on the ground that the victim is a survivor of genocide.

Albert Baudouin Twizeyimana, the coordinator of PAX PRESS, a network of journalists that promotes peace and professional reporting said that some journalists do not make efforts in collecting information on the field.

"Journalists must move from offices to the field and avoid reporting stories from international media that are reporting stories about Rwanda, yet journalists should report those stories on the field," he said.

He added that media literacy is also needed to educate the public about the appropriate way of using media.

Robust editors' forum

"The media fraternity should have a strong editors' forum that set clear guidelines that should be followed while collecting and disseminating information during the Commemoration of Genocide," he added.

He added that the media should edit the comments from the audiences especially those spreading genocide ideology and denial.

"There are some of the young generation who have Genocide ideology and also deny Genocide against the Tutsi a because of the wrong information they get from their parents. Media should play role in educating them," he added.

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