On Wednesday, 17th December 2014 the Rwanda Media Commission held a meeting with 10 online newspapers seen as higher newspapers in spreading obscenities; with objective of reminding each other about journalists and media practitioners’ code of ethics vis-à-vis obscenities and violence reporting.
Mr. IBAMBE Jean Paul, RMC Legal Officer emphasized on the journalists’ responsibilities, professional journalism ethics and how journalists have to respect their profession.
“Journalists and media practitioners must be aware of their responsibilities to the general public, serving the truth innate within our culture, upholding and preserving the respect and prestige of the press, being accountable,” he said.
The 7th article of the Rwanda Journalists’ and Media practitioners’ code of ethics was the cornerstone of the meeting. It states: “Violence and obscenities: a journalist shall avoid broadcasting or publishing news inciting violence or obscene news encouraging hostility or other illegal activities.
Prosper KWISANGA, Rwandapals.com owner asked when a journalist doesn’t have the right to publish a story referring while having facts about a certain issue.
According to the Rwanda Journalists and Media practitioners’ code of ethics amended on 5th April, 2014; the following are some restrictions during publications or broadcasts:
– Article 4. Incitement to hatred: a journalist shall avoid broadcasting or publishing biased information inciting to racial, tribal, ethnic, religious hatred or hatred based on sex, age social status, disability, any disease or health status of the people mentioned or anything likely to serve as a basis for stigmatization.
– Article 6: Respect for private life and human dignity: (b) a journalist should not open to ridicule the undergo including minors, the old, the bereaved and any other underprivileged person or communities.
– Article 7: Violence and obscenities: a journalist shall avoid broadcasting or publishing news inciting violence or obscene news encouraging hostility or other illegal activities.
– Article 8: Protection of minors and victims of rape: (b) She/he (a journalist) shall be careful not to identify the names of victims of rape whether minors or otherwise, take care not to publish their pictures and photos or details likely to lead to their identification, except if this serves the child’s interests.
– Article 18: Presumption of innocence: (b) While handling any legal information, they (journalists) shall avoid establishing any individual’s relationship with the suspect, or referring to his or her ethnic group, tribe, religion, sex, family or friends, unless their mention serves public interest.(d) However, if suspects are less than 18 years of age, a journalist shall be careful not to broadcast or publish their pictures or photos.
During this meeting, participants took a way forward of respecting journalists and media practitioners’ code of ethics. They also devoted to respect Rwandan cultural values on the subject of obscenities reporting; and to work together with the Media Self-Regulatory Body (RMC) in implementing its mandate.