Many lay journalists who report on international and Genocide related cases have found difficulties in their reporting.
Arguably, many journalists have no legal background to understand the complexities attached to such cases that come with many jargons.
Thanks to Pax Press, a network of journalists promoting peace, human rights, and democracy in Rwanda for bridging the technical gap between law and journalism by training judicial reporters on judicial matters and briefing Journalists on the issues that are engaged with court etiquettes coverage.
In the interview with Juvens Ntampuhwe, Coordinator of the Justice and Memory Project, a project conducting outreach activities on genocide cases prosecuted in foreign states, said the annual training is aimed at empowering journalists with the knowledge on how to follow and produce objective information on cases decided in foreign countries on basis of universal jurisdiction.
”The training aims to help inform the Rwandan populations on the prosecution of cases related to the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi, which cases are handled by the justice of foreign states, based on universal jurisdiction. The cases involved are very complex. Journalists may find it hard to report on such cases if they are not trained. The workshop is crucial to help journalists acquire basic legal knowledge and familiarize themselves with the principles governing the proceedings.” he said.
On multiple occasions, journalists have found themselves behind bars over misconducts in courts of law after ignorantly mistaking laws, breaking courtroom rules while covering those cases.
Fulgence Niyonagize, Project Coordinator, Pax Press, said the annual training organizes events and invites media houses so that they are equipped with ‘basic notions of law’ and as well on how to report on international and Genocide related cases that usually involve human rights violations and legal technicalities.
“This year’s training emphasized much on understanding the international law principles such as the principle of universal jurisdiction, conventions and international customs both applied foreign judicial authorities while deciding cases related to the Genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi,” he said.
“There is much importance attached to a journalist current cases, press coverage and dissemination of information locally left the participants satisfied and most of them expressed their gratitude towards the training,” he adds.
Jonathan Habimana a local journalist and a trainee said it was a privilege to get trained and acquire the basic notions of international laws. He hailed the operation and applications of international laws and called it ‘interesting but complicated’.
“It was helpful to get such a great awareness on the law and I managed to understand how victims of Genocide against the Tutsi have can be compensated in such a complex manner,”
“We often deal with the complex issues, but we used to make to make errors due to poor understandings and inadequate technical support now we are better equipped to react appropriately,” he adds.
Since 2017, almost 300 journalists have been trained by the Pax Press in the legal awareness program that trains them annually.