Journalists have accused public relations practitioners of denying access to information to external audiences.
Journalists blamed public relations officers for withholding information and denying them to meet with their bosses in some government institutions.
Emma Marie Umurerwa a journalist of Igihe said that the reason why public relations officer decline to give information is because they are not self-confident or fear for their bosses.
A communication researcher from the office of the Government Spokesperson (OGS), Sam Mandela criticized some public relations for not fulfilling their responsibilities and some journalists for not doing their work professionally.
“It is imperative that institutions help journalists to access information in any way, public relations officers should take the lead role, but journalists should also seek information professionally,’ He said.
Officer of the in the department in charge of inspecting the conduct of the country’s senior officials and inspecting the implementation of access to information law at Ombusdman office, Cecile Mugeni said that anyone who is denied information on public and private institutions for the common interest of citizens must report the case to Ombudsman so that those who have withheld that information be punished for that.
“The law says that the deadline is three days, for information regarding health and privacy the deadline is twenty-four hours. For a journalist who seeks information for publication, the deadline is within forty-eight hours. When the institution or company is requested a lot of information, the Ombudsman gives that institution fourteen days to put it together.” She said.
However, she warns that in case of recurrence offender may be penalized with other provisions in this law.
The concern was raised in a meeting of Rwanda Ombudsman together with journalists and public relations officers from both public and private institutions at a workshop to discuss the importance of embracing access to information and fostering democratic governance, accountability and transparency.
Fred Masengesho Rugira/Bwiza.com