EU envoys criticize suspension of BBC service in Rwanda

By REUTERS
June 5, 2015 18:34
1 minute read.

 
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European Union ambassadors criticized on Friday the suspension of the local BBC radio service in Rwanda over a row related to a BBC program on the 1994 genocide, saying the suspension undermined free speech.

The service was suspended in October after a documentary by the broadcaster questioned official accounts of the genocide, in which 800,000 mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

The state-run Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority said last Friday that the BBC broadcasts were indefinitely suspended. The case has been referred to the prosecutor general.

The BBC's "Rwanda: The Untold Story," which aired in October, included interviews with former aides to President Paul Kagame, a former rebel leader, accusing him of plotting to shoot down a plane carrying former President Juvenal Habyarimana.

The assassination of Habyarimana marked the start of the 100-day genocide. The documentary also suggested that Tutsi rebels, led by Kagame, committed war crimes.

Kagame called the documentary "cynicism of the highest order".

"We recognize the hurt caused in Rwanda by some parts of the BBC 2 documentary "Rwanda's Untold Story," European Union ambassadors in Kigali said in a statement.

"However, we regret the indefinite suspension of the BBC Kinyarwanda service on FM and on the internet in Rwanda, which affects media freedom and limits the space for expressing opinions. We expect legal due process to be followed in further steps," said the envoys, including those from the Netherlands, France, Germany, Britain, Belgium, Sweden and the EU mission.

"We expect legal due process to be followed in further steps," the statement said.

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