Methodology

To achieve its mandate, the Committee adopted a qualitatively descriptive, interactive and participatory methodology built on five key tools: defining and clarifying key terms related to the inquiry―such as “media freedom” and “free speech”; the method of evidence collection; the ethics that guided the committee; and finally, the approach used in making sense of, interpreting, and analyzing the evidence in order to reach the conclusions and recommendations in this report.

To assemble the evidence, the Committee relied on four sources. The documentary itself and programs aired on BBC’s Gahuzamiryango (Kinyarwanda-Kirundi); the witnesses; secondary documents―such as UN reports; case law―like ICTR judicial rulings and legal instruments―both domestic and international―including International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948; and the examination of BBC’s internal editorial guidelines as well as the Code of Ethics for Rwanda Journalists and Media Practitioners.

Further, the committee collected evidence from several witnesses. The objective being to extract a diversity of views, witnesses came from in and outside the country. Witnesses included representatives of institutions, researchers, academics, and genocide survivors. The Committee made a public announcement inviting willing witnesses, individuals and institutions, to appear and testify.

Some of the witnesses were purposively selected and invited due to their expertise on the subject matter while others wrote requesting to appear and testify. Experts in media, journalism and law from different countries were invited to testify on some of the values at issue― their informed views on principles of impartiality, truth, objectivity, and their perspectives on other universal values like press freedom and free speech.

Individuals who appeared in the documentary were not considered for appearance before the Committee on the grounds that the mandate of this inquiry was to examine the conduct of the BBC and its responsibility in handling the claims that were made by the participants in the “Rwanda’s Untold Story” documentary.

In interpreting and analyzing the documentary, discourse analysis was used―a method that deconstructs journalist Corbin’s narrative method where, discursively and through the use of words, images and numbers, promises and introduces her viewers to what she terms an “untold story” and the “truth” about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Essentially, what Corbin’s approach promises and does is that, through the discursive reconstruction of what happened in 1994, an “untold story” is able to emerge alongside what she terms the “official story” of the Government of Rwanda.

Further, the Committee triangulated the four sources of evidence to discursively assess the claims that were made in the documentary, which helped the Committee to meet its mandate in determining whether, in her approach, journalist Corbin and the BBC met requirements from their own set of ethical values, international standards and Rwandan law. This entire methodological approach is the basis of this report.

Limitations

As due process demands, the Committee felt that it was important to give the BBC the opportunity to respond to the complaints and allegations made against it by the public that gave rise to the inquiry. A formal invitation was sent to its leadership, but, regrettably, the opportunity was turned down.