The Rwanda media Self-regulatory body (Rwanda Media commission) jointly with Rwanda National Police have organized regular interaction session between the public order and law enforcers (Police & DASSO Officers) and members of the media fraternity under the theme: “Strengthening Partnership for Quality Service Delivery.” During the first interaction held on 3rd April 2017, a twelve-point resolutions were adopted at the end of the one day Rwanda National Police, District Administration Security Support Organs (DASSO) and the Rwanda media fraternity interaction session, aimed at enhancing a better working relationship between the security forces and the media in Rwanda.
The day-long session was graced by representatives from the Swedish embassy, UNESCO, Legal Aid Forum, Rwanda Governance Board, Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority, National Commission for the Fight against Genocide, and the National Public Prosecution Authority among others.
The opening session was officiated by the Honorable Minister of Justice and Attorney General Hon. Busingye Johnston .He highlighted that Professional journalism is about serving the interest of the people when it comes to crime prevention and compliance with the law, your commitment to public safety is highly valued.
The chairperson of Rwanda Media Commission (RMC), Cleophas Barore, said that in a period of four years, RMC has mediated and adjudicated over 200 filed complaints and none of them was handled by either the Police or judicial courts of law.This achievement was considered a success story by the guest honor, Hon. Busingye who stated that the Rwanda courts have been laid off the burden of media related cases but much more guaranteed the constitutional rights of freedom of expression by journalists.
UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa was represented by Ms Lydia Gachungi, the regional expert for safety of journalists and media development who urged the media national stakeholders to establish a national mechanism for safety, taking into account that the safety of journalists concerns cannot be addressed by any single institution or organization. “Safety of Journalists can be addressed comprehensively by tackling the three Ps which are prevention, protection and prosecution. There is need to elaborate who the stakeholdersof such a mechanism should be, whom such mechanism should cover not forgetting citizen journalists and bloggers and the design considering the country historical and current context,” Ms. Gachungi reiterated.
The Police spokesperson, ACP Theos Badege indicated that the relationship between media and police is improving compared to previous years where incidents of friction between police and media was adversarial. He however called on the journalist to always carry their identification documents with them for the police to ensure their security while on duty.
Participants to this session that included high ranking police officers,District administration security services officers ,journalists ,academicians and senior government representatives present deliberated on key issues to advance ethical reporting of legal and justice matters, safety of journalists, rights and obligations and responsible coverage of the commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
In his closing remarks, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Emmanuel Gasana advised that the adopted 12 resolutions should rather be action points to ensure that impact is attained.
The resolutions centered on ensuring ethical reporting of legal and justice matters, safety of journalists, responsible coverage of the commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and empowering Rwanda Media Commission to effectively monitor the media performance.
With Support from UNESCO and the Government of Sweden, the Rwanda National Police and the media fraternity in Rwanda are holding six Police – Media interaction sessions at the national and regional level in the month of April and May 2017. This follows a the resolutions of the training of Police and journalists on safety of journalists which took place in April 2016 and resolutions of the meeting of 20th June 2016 where participants recommended regular interaction sessions between Rwanda National Police (RNP) and media fraternity.