As of December 31, 1998

The fighting between the Tutsi-dominated government of the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) and Hutu insurgents continued. Casualty figures are clouded by misinformation, censorship, and security risks in the combat areas that restrict journalists' ability to report on the crisis. The state controls the broadcast media, justifying its actions on national security grounds based on the previous government's use of radio to incite ethnic hatred in 1994. So it is not surprising that information on controversial government activities, such as the forced relocation of citizens in the northwest region into refugee camps, is rarely broadcast by the state. Independent newspapers circulate in Kigali, but they are not distributed in the rural areas where the majority of the population lives.

As more than 100,000 suspects sit in overcrowded jails, a number of whom will face trial before the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for involvement in the 1994 massacres of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, media coverage of the ICTR trials could bolster a sense among the surviving population that justice has been served. Independent observers have described the ICTR trials as hasty, and journalists' coverage of the judicial process has not necessarily led to improvements in how the trials are being conducted. Foundation Hirondelle, a Swiss-based NGO, financially supports Radio Agatashya, which covers news of the region and reports daily on the ICTR trials. The British Broadcasting Corporation and the Voice of America's Rwandan-language services, Agence France-Presse, the United Nations' Integrated Regional Information Network, and Rwandan newspapers generally only cover the more high-profile cases.

The dangers to local journalists remain great as they struggle to practice their profession in an extremely hostile environment. On January 28, Wilson Ndayambadje, a reporter for the Rwandan National Radio and Television in Gisenyi, was beaten to death by a government soldier. On May 2, Emmanuel Munyemanzi, the head of production services at Rwandan National Television, disappeared on his way home from work and has not been seen since. Two months before Munyemanzi's disappearance, the director of the Rwandan Information Office had accused him of sabotage for a production mistake that occurred during a political debate.

Attacks on the Press in Rwanda in 1998

5/2/98Emmanuel Munyemanzi, Rwandan National TelevisionMissing
1/28/98Wilson Ndayambadje, National Rwandan Radio and TelevisionKilled

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