The duties of police and those of the media aim at building safer and developing societies for sustainable nationhood, media experts said yesterday.
The experts were speaking during the Rwanda National Police and Media interaction session which was held at force’s headquarters in Kacyiru under the theme “The role of Media in Security and Crime Prevention.”
It brought together about 100 local media practitioners.
Dr. Christopher Kayumba, a journalism lecturer at the University of Rwanda noted that both the Police and media “work for the people.”
“The role of a journalist is to inform the public and help them build their societies for sustainable security and development. Countries die when their residents are not informed, when there is no security, so there is no security when there is no law and order,” Dr. Kayumba said.
“Be informed before you inform, know what to ask and who to ask. Both police and media should base their information on facts to inform help the public but not to deviate them.”
He noted that media plays a vital part in good governance and security.
Emmanuel Mugisha, the executive secretary of Rwanda Media Council (RMC) echoed the same message noting that ensuring security and crime prevention is implied in the media code of ethics.
“What we are discussing here today is nothing new… It is part of the media ethical standards. As media, we should be challenged… aspects of security and crime prevention are also part of our duties,” Mugisha said.
“The code of ethics talks about universal declaration of human rights, tolerance, democracy, social progress and national cohesion respectful of each citizen, which all lead to crime prevention and building safer societies,” he added.
These codes of ethics prohibit inciting violence and hatred. If you have doubt on what you want to report, better leave it until you are very sure and this fulfills article 3 on social responsibility. We should build civic journalism through strong partnership.”
Chief Supt. Celestin Twahirwa, commissioner for Public Relation and Media, said RNP understand and value media as a tool for awareness and public sensitisation against crime, adding that the force has taken various initiatives in line with the media law.
Among them is ensuring accountability through daily reports on the police website, active social media (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, soundcloud) and decentralizing the spokesperson’s office to the regional level.
He, however, challenged them on misrepresentation and reporting based on rumors, citing an example of recent cases involving killing of motorcyclists, which was hyper reported to increase the number of those killed to eight instead of two.
“The media facilitates justice and like the police, represents the interests on the public, but it can be evil if used unprofessionally with destructing propaganda and creating panic,” CSP Twahirwa said.
Meanwhile the two entities adopted eleven recommendations to ensure partnership in community policing initiatives.
They include forging strong partnership to fight and prevent crimes, organize period training on crime reporting and organize an annual joint anti-crime awareness week, among others.