Media gagged in Rwanda

2010-04-15 09:43

Rwanda’s media regulator has suspended publication of the

country’s two main independent weekly newspapers for six months.

Isabelle Karehangabo, a member of the Media High Council, said the

suspension of publication of the Umuseso and Umuvugizi newspapers was in line

with the country’s press laws.

“It’s the first time a measure of this importance has been taken by

the Media High Council,” she said.

Both Umuseso and Umuvugizi regularly fall foul of the authorities

in Rwanda. On Tuesday Rwandan President Paul Kagame lashed out at media

organisations that report rumours.

Kagame said: “It is inconceivable and unacceptable that we should

accept the trade of selling rumours that seek to destroy Rwandans and their

country. We cannot accept it... and it must stop, through choice or through


The international press rights group Committee to Protect

Journalists (CPJ) said that by silencing the two papers the council, named by

the government, was “robbing Rwanda voters of crucial alternative voices during

the presidential election campaign”.

“The ruling is a thinly disguised attempt at censorship. If the

election is to be seen as free and fair, the council must reverse this ruling

and ensure that all media are able to cover the campaign,” CPJ Africa Program

Coordinator, Tom Rhodes, said.

The telephones of officials in charge of the newspapers were

switched off yesterday. At least one of Umuseso’s editors now lives in exile in

South Africa.

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