Rwanda Media Commission (RMC), a media self-regulatory body, on Wednesday suspended Assouman Niyonambaza, the publisher of Rugari newspaper, for three months and ordered him to temporarily hand over his press card.
An RMC disciplinary committee concluded that Niyonambaza, the publisher and senior writer of Rugari, defamed the University of Technology and Arts of Byumba (UTAB) in successive articles published early last year.
The committee was hearing an appeal lodged by Niyonambaza who had challenged a decision taken by the same body last year.
Based on Rugari’s stories in two issues published in March and April last year, RMC had earlier found the publisher guilty of spreading malicious rumors, defamation and invasion of privacy among other charges.
He was also found guilty of publishing not allowing the other side to comment, publishing sensationalised headlines and failure to draw a line between a news story and an opinion piece.
UTAB had filed the case to RMC in June the varsity presenting two stories published in Rugari newspaper one alleging that UTAB management had mismanaged a tender worth Rwf856m, while the other article called for urgent intervention at the Gicumbi-based institution.
In June last year, RMC found that Rugari newspaper breached professional ethics and ordered Niyonambaza to publish errata setting the record straight on both articles.
Other sanctions at the time included ordering the newspaper to write a formal apology UTAB management which prompted Niyonambaza to appeal against the decision.
To hear the appeal, RMC in January this year assigned a disciplinary committee to look into the appeal case and the committee, which was headed by Donatien Mucyo, a lawyer, consulted both parties.
The team therefore resolved to temporarily withdraw Niyonambaza’s press card for a period of three months on top of writing an apology to the university management.