The President of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, Dr. Frank Habineza, who is also a Member of Parliament, has said that the imprisonment of some Rwandan journalists is one of the reasons why the Rwandan media landscape is not free.
Dr. Frank Habineza said that he is ready to submit his candidacy in the next Presidential elections.
During an interview with UMUSEKE, Dr. Habineza talked about what has been done in the party and what he thinks he would change when he is elected as the President of Rwanda.
Habineza said that if he will be trusted, and his party gave him the right to be Presidential candidate, he will campaign for changes, which would make positive impacts to the lives of Rwandans.
He said, “We will continue to put a lot of effort in ensuring that Rwanda becomes a full Democratic Country so that every Rwandan can have rights to express his/her opinions and press freedom.”
He added that once he becomes a presidential candidate he will make sure that he is putting the media in the agenda for it to work well without obstacles and for it to have the capacity, among others
“We will work to get out of poverty, to reach a middle Income society where people are able to get jobs, protect the environment and make sure that we put effort into Security, and look beyond the African continent.” He said
Freedom of the press…
The recent Rwanda Media Barometer’ published in November 2021 states that freedom of the press is at 93%, that of expression at 86%, independence of the media at 87%, while 94% is a rate of access to information in Rwanda.
However, the April 2021 World Press Freedom Index report on press freedom in 180 countries places Rwanda at 156, one of 130 countries that has no Media Freedom.
This is why Dr. Frank Habineza finds that there is a need to strengthen the freedom of the media.
For Dr. Habineza, the media in Rwanda is struggling to survive which is also one of the reasons why it is not free.
He said “One cannot be free if he has no resources. When a person is poor he/she can’t also find the freedoms because Freedom and ability go hands in hands.”
“Someone may tell you that you have the right to eat well, but not the ability to buy food. The media may have the right to work, but they don’t have the means to work.” He said
Dr. Frank Habineza, in addition to pointing out that there is a lack of financial means in the media, he also found that journalists are afraid to exercise their journalism rights because some have been imprisoned.
He said, “There is still an element of fear, you see journalists who are afraid to express their opinions clearly. It depends on the environment we came from or have been in for a while. There are some who look at history and say that there are journalists who have been imprisoned, … all this creates a bad atmosphere, these actions that exist make others afraid.” He said.
Dr Frank Habineza finds that there is a need for political will to prevent the media from being “under attack”.