The Rwanda Media Commission (RMC) is established by journalists and mandated under Law No 02/2013 of 08/02/2013 to regulate the daily functioning of the media and administer the Rwanda Journalists and Media Practitioners’ Code of Ethics (the Code).
The RMC receives complaints related to the Code and examine such complaints to determine the appropriate resolution or sanction under this Procedure for Handling Cases.
While it is the role of RMC to examine cases of breaches of the Code, through a complaints-based process, the RMCregards it as being of great importance to have a clear and transparent procedure for the handling of cases, which affords protection to all parties. Cases will be settled with sole reference to the Code.
The system is designed to maintain standards in the media by enforcing the terms of the Code and so holding journalist/editors/media practitioners/broadcasters to account, while still preserving appropriate freedom of expression and freedom of the media. This is primarily achieved by the RMC administering an efficient and free complaints service. The RMC encourages complainants, as the more people use the system, the more the media are held to account for their decisions. This will lead to a rise in standards in the media in Rwanda.
As a fundamental principle, the RMC aims to resolve complaints, and reach an amicable resolution between the parties, through mediation before moving to a full adjudication process and a formal decision.
The RMC will investigate a case initiated in any of the following ways:
- A complaint is submitted;
- A case is referred from any other body authorized to deal with cases involving media issues, such as RURA.
Complaints by members of the public will only be accepted in writing. The complainants will be kept informed of the handling of the case, to the extent justified and practicable.
All cases shall be registered and a case file shall be opened. The parties will be informed, to the extent justified and practicable, that a case has been opened.
The case file is open to the public, unless decided otherwise by the RMC. The parties will be informed of all material contained in the case file. Any material submitted by one party will be communicated to the other party.
The case shall be examined by the relevant departments of the RMC. This process shall be overseen by the RMC’s Executive Secretary. At this time any further information shall be solicited from the complainant and/or the publication/journalist/broadcaster if deemed necessary by the RMC.
Cases shall be decided on written or received material. Oral evidence may be heard in exceptional circumstances. All parties concerned are to be given reasonable time to present and state their case and submit information or make representations
If no action is deemed necessary, a case may be closed by a decision of the Executive Secretary, in consultation with the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners. The RMC will inform both parties of this decision and provide its reasons for not taking the case further.
Such reasons could include:
- The complaint falls outside of the RMC’s remit and Competencies;
- The complaint is submitted beyond the laid down deadline of 30 days after the article is published in the press or broadcast on radio or TV, or appears online;
- The complaint is already the subject of legal proceedings;
- The complaint is considered to be frivolous; or
- The complaint is submitted by a third party and not by the person or group directly affected.
If further action is deemed necessary, the Executive Secretary will prepare the relevant documentation for presentation to the Ethics Committee, along with any recommendations from the initial findings.
The following measures may be decided by the Ethics Committee in the course of the adjudicating the case:
- to request the complainant to provide additional written or oral (in exceptional circumstances) evidence or information about the complaint;
- to require the publication/journalist/broadcaster to provide additional evidence or information.
Upon completion of the Ethics Committee’s deliberations it will deliver a formal decision on the case and inform both parties in writing, prior to a making the decision public.
Any journalist/publication/broadcaster that is found to be in breach of the Code is liable to the following journalistic sanctions or remedies:
Sanctions will be proportionate to the nature and gravity of the violation, taking into consideration all relevant factors. Failure to comply with a previous RMC decision may result in more severe sanctions.
Decisions on cases may be appealed to the Media Appeals Committee.
The appeal shall be made within fourteen days of the date the parties received the decision of the RMC Ethics Committee. Information on how to make the appeal shall be included in the decision.
The Media Appeals Committee shall register the appeal, and notify the parties that an appeal has been received.
In the case of an appeal the decision of the Ethics Committee shall not take effect until after the appeal has been decided unless otherwise stated in the decision.
This Procedure was adopted by the RMC Board of Commissioners. It will be reviewed from time to time in the light of experience and changing circumstances.
The amendments enter into force on the date of adoption, unless otherwise stated in this article.
Policy for dealing with unacceptable behavior by complainants
- The Commission aims to deal with all complaints quickly and thoroughly. The Commission’s staff should be accessible and courteous to everyone who comes into contact with the Commission.
- The Commission will not normally limit the contact that complainants have with its staff.
- In a small minority of cases, complainants interact with the Commission’s staff in an unacceptable way. In these exceptional circumstances the Commission reserves the right to take appropriate action.
- The Commission does not expect its staff to tolerate unacceptable behavior by complainants. Unacceptable behavior is behavior which, because of its frequency or nature, hinders the Commission’s ability to handle complaints effectively.