Inquiry Committee Welcomes Decision by RURA on BBC Genocide Denial Allegations

Today the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) handed down its decision on allegations brought to its attention regarding the documentary “Rwanda’s Untold Story”, which was aired by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on 1 October 2014. After considering the recommendations of the report prepared by the Inquiry Committee, the regulatory authority decided that:

1. The Kinyarwanda programme of the BBC in Rwanda is indefinitely suspended;
2. BBC continues airing other programmes subject to compliance with Rwandan laws, regulations and licensing requirements;
3. The identified offences be transmitted to the Prosecutor General for consideration and appropriate action.

Speaking on the decision, the Chairman of the Inquiry Committee, Martin Ngoga, said:

“The Inquiry Committee welcomes the decision by the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority. We are pleased that the report prepared by the committee was useful in coming to a decision on the allegations of genocide denial and other offences by the BBC. The Inquiry Committee is ready to cooperate with any authority conducting further investigations and avail the research completed by the committee in producing its report.”

The full decision by RURA can be found below.

——-

RURA DECISION ON THE INQUIRY INTO THE DOCUMENTARY AIRED BY BBC: ‘RWANDA’S UNTOLD STORY’

We, the undersigned, being the Members of the Regulatory Board of RURA, convened an extraordinary board meeting on 29th May 2015;

In exercising the power conferred upon us by the Law N° 09/2013 of 1st March 2013 establishing Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) and determining its mission, powers, organization and functioning especially in its Articles 2; 4,5°; 4,10°; 6 and 26 and in accordance with Article 4 of Law N° 02/2013 of 08/02/2013 regulating Media;

Considering that the licensing of BBC under the Agreement with the Government of Rwanda dated April 1, 2003, which has been the basis of broadcasting in Rwanda, is inconsistent with the Laws mentioned above;

Upon due consideration of the Report of the Inquiry Committee established to look into allegations brought to the attention of RURA on a documentary aired by British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on the 1st October 2014 tilted “Rwanda’s Untold Story”;

Having examined the findings and found compelling evidence with respect to the allegations against the BBC;

The Regulatory Board concluded that in airing the documentary, the BBC abused press freedom and free speech, violated its own editorial guidelines, transgressed journalistic standards, and violated Rwandan law, with particular reference to genocide denial and revisionism, inciting hatred, and divisionism among Rwandans;

Considering the gravity of the above, the Regulatory Board unanimously decides that:

1. The Kinyarwanda programme of the BBC in Rwanda is indefinitely suspended;
2. BBC continues airing other programmes subject to compliance with Rwandan laws, regulations and licensing requirements;
3. The identified offences be transmitted to the Prosecutor General for consideration and appropriate action.

The Director General of RURA is authorised to perform the acts to implement this decision.

Signed by:

Coletha U. RUHAMYA, Chairperson

Eugene KAZIGE, Vice Chairperson

Judith MBABAZI, Member

Etienne NTAGWIRUMUGARA, Member

Fortune MUKANDOLI, Member

Liliane U. MUPENDE, Member

Patrick NYIRISHEMA Member, Secretary

Inquiry Committee on BBC Hands Over Report to RURA

Press Release | 28 February 2015

INQUIRY COMMITTEE ON BBC HANDS OVER REPORT TO RURA

The Inquiry Committee on the BBC Documentary “Rwanda’s Untold Story”, which was established to examine allegations that the documentary denied the genocide against the Tutsi and failed to meet journalistic standards and the BBC’s own editorial values, today handed their report to the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA).

Speaking to the media, the chairperson of the committee, Martin Ngoga, said:

“For four months, the committee met, studied, learnt from varied sources, analysed, deliberated on, and made conclusions about the allegations against the BBC. The findings made on each allegation are informed by evidence from varied sources, including documents, books, and reports about the genocide against the Tutsi, case law on the subject of genocide, Rwandan law, international conventions and norms, journalistic standards, the BBC’s editorial guidelines, and witness testimonies.”

The evidence collected by the committee indicates that the BBC was derelict in its responsibility to moderate and enforce the duties and responsibilities that come with the exercise of press freedom and freedom of the press. The committee found that in airing the documentary, the BBC transgressed parameters it set for itself as journalistic standards in its Editorial Charter. There were a number of instances that pointed to the violation of Rwandan law, with particular reference to the offenses of genocide denial and revisionism, inciting hatred and divisionism among Rwandans.

Evidence presented to the committee also showed recurrent transgressions on the part of the BBC with regard to the content of its Kinyarwanda programs. The committee also found that there was a general shortage of goodwill by the BBC in applying the content and spirit of the agreement that moderates its relationship with the Government of Rwanda.

As a result, the committee recommends:

  • That the agreement between the Government of Rwanda and the BBC be terminated.

This recommendation is based on the identified and recurrent transgressions on the part of the BBC. The committee invited BBC was invited to appear before this Committee but it declined. Instead, it chose to conduct its own internal inquiry whose findings entirely exonerated itself and its producers of any professional or legal wrongdoing.

In view of the above, therefore, to restore any future formal relationship, we recommend that the Government should require the BBC to commit to adhering to not only agreed professional and legal principles but also in practice in the letter and the spirit of the agreement.

  • That respective organs of the Rwandan Government initiate criminal and civil processes to deal with identified offenses and compel the BBC to disclose the information in reference to the recommendation number 1. The former process is based on serious evidence of criminal offenses, as established by this inquiry while the latter is premised on the Committee’s inability to access key information that is in the hands of the BBC, which, we have reason to believe, can shed more light on a number of pertinent issues surrounding the origin, purpose, and source of funding for the documentary.
  • That the Government of Rwanda should establish an effective and cohesive national communication strategy, as a permanent instrument for tracking, identifying, and addressing manifestations of genocide denial in all its forms and wherever it may be found, as well as for spreading values of national interest.

The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) commissioned the committee to conduct the inquiry after receiving complaints about the BBC documentary, accusing the BBC of genocide denial, promoting divisionism and inciting hatred. The committee members include Martin Ngoga (Chairperson), Christophe Mfizi, Dr. Christopher Kayumba, Rosine Urujeni and Evode Uwizeyimana.

A copy of the committee’s report can be downloaded here.

Martin Ngoga
Chairperson of the Committee of Inquiry
Telecom House, 3rd Floor
Kigali, Rwanda