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

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