Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014, 13:11 GMT

Predators of Press Freedom: Rwanda - Paul Kagame

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 3 May 2011
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Predators of Press Freedom: Rwanda - Paul Kagame, 3 May 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4dc2b52710.html [accessed 21 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Paul Kagame, President, Rwanda

Thanks to a thin face, slight build, intellectual's glasses and conservative suits, Paul Kagame looks more like a modern, Internet-savvy politician than a former guerrilla chief and war lord, who seized power in the wake of the 1994 genocide has since used a reconciliation process to bolster his authority and neutralize the opposition. President since 2000 and reelected in 2010, Kagame does not tolerate embarrassing questions at news conferences, often denigrates journalists and brands outspoken media as "Radio Mille Collines." Every year several Rwandan journalists decide to go into exile because they find the atmosphere unbearable in their home country. This does not worry President Kagame, who refers to these journalists as "mercenaries" and "bums."

Two women journalists were given sentences of 7 and 17 years in prison in early 2011 for criticizing the president. Umuvugizi deputy editor Jean-Léonard Rugambage was murdered in Kigali in June 2010, probably for investigating the intelligence services and, in particular, their attempt to murder an exiled general. Umuvugizi and another newspaper, Umuseso, have long been two of the regime's biggest bugbears.

Defamation, invasion of privacy and insulting the president are the charges preferred by the information ministry and the High Media Council, its (not very independent) regulatory authority. To cap it all, anyone thinking of launching a new newspaper, radio station or TV station is now required to show an exorbitant amount of start-up capital (41,000 euros for a newspaper, for example) in order to obtain a permit. It is a good way of discouraging media diversity.

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