Rwanda | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Citing the contentious and provocative role of certain media outlets during the 1994 genocide, the present government sharply restricts the ability of the media to operate freely in spite of a constitutional guarantee of press freedom. In December, the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda convicted two journalists for their role in the genocide and sentenced them to life in prison. Despite a media bill passed in 2002 authorizing the licensing of private radio and TV stations, by year's end the government controlled all broadcast media. The number of independent newspapers is growing, but fearing official reprisals many journalists practice self-censorship, and coverage tends to follow the government line. During the campaign period leading up to national elections in August, the government used state-run media outlets to accuse the opposition of divisiveness and failed to provide equal media coverage for all the candidates as promised. Reporters continued to suffer intimidation, arbitrary arrest and detention, and deportation at the hands of authorities. In January, Ismael Mbonigaba, editor of the newspaper Umuseso, was detained for a month and accused of promoting divisiveness and discrimination. In November, Umuseso's news editor, Robert Sebufirira, was detained and 4,000 copies of the newspaper confiscated after it carried an article investigating the demobilization of some army officers; five other Umuseso journalists were also briefly detained. Many independent newspapers are forced to print in Uganda due to the lack of printing presses in Rwanda.