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RMC suspends journalist Niyonambaza over unethical profession

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The Rwanda Media Commission (RMC), a media self-regulatory body, has suspended from the career, Mr Niyonambaza Assoumani with his newspaper Rugari. The suspension is temporary of three months.

In accordance with disciplinary committee, this Wednesday March 1st, RMC orders Niyonambaza to hand in his press card. His newspaper Rugari, published in Kinyarwanda is also suspended.

Niyonambaza Assoumani, proprietor, publisher and senior reporter of Rugari, is alleged of defamation, against the University of Technology and Arts of Byumba (UTAB former IPB). In his Rugari, Niyonambaza has published in two consecutive issues (125&126), stories based on rumors. Last year, RMC found Niyonambaza guilty of breaching profession ethics. He was charged of spreading malicious rumors, defamation and invasion of privacy.

Moreover, Niyonambaza with his Rugari, has never given the other side the right of comment, while publishing his stories. Both stories were accusing UTAB staff, of mismanaging a tender worth 856 million Rwfs, allocated to building a new campus at Kamitsinga.

In June 2016, as RMC found Niyonambaza and Rugari newspaper breaching professional ethics, it ordered publication of errata for both stories. That time, RMC also ordered Niyonambaza an official and formal apology towards UTAB staff. Not agreeing with this last decision, he decided to appeal.

Early this year, the committee headed by the lawyer Mucyo Donatien went through the appeal document, consulted both UTAB and Niyonambaza. Other members of the committee were Rev. Dr Uwimana Jean Pierre and Kagire Edmund.

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Resolution of verdict was publically pronounced today “To temporarily suspend Rugari newspaper for three months, withdraw the press card (Press card: 14/026-93027) from Niyonambaza for the same duration, and order Niyonambaza to write an apology to UTAB staff”. Apologies will be addressed to the whole UTAB community and heads of staff, namely Father Prof. Dr Nyombayire Faustin and Mbabazi Justine, who also have been targeted in Assoumani’s defamation.

Mbabazi Justine/UTAB
Mbabazi Justine/UTAB

On behalf of UTAB, Mbabazi Justine is happy with the decision, with a hope of journalists to improve conduct.

Article 2 in Code of ethics says : Honesty and search for truth The journalist and any other media professional shall abhor lies. They have the obligation to respect facts and search for truth, keeping in mind the public’s right to true information. In no way shall they suppress essential information or distort any kind of remarks, texts and documents. They shall consider slander, abuse, libel and groundless accusations as the most dangerous professional faults.

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Jean Baptiste Karegeya

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