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Media High Council (Rwanda)

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 7th July 2010.

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Photo of Mary Creagh Mary Creagh Opposition Assistant Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Health) 11:30 am, 7th July 2010

What funding his Department plans to allocate to the media high council in Rwanda in 2011-12.

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Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development

The UN-led programme of support to six oversight institutions in Rwanda, including the media high council, comes to an end in this financial year. There are no plans for further DFID support.

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Photo of Mary Creagh Mary Creagh Opposition Assistant Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Health)

I thank the Minister for that reply, and I am relieved to hear that we will not be funding the media high council given that it has recently suspended Rwanda's two leading independent newspapers, Umuseso and Umuvugizi, and given that a leading Rwandan journalist, Jean-Léonard Rugambage, was murdered in Rwanda in June. Will the Minister make urgent representations, through his Department, to the Rwandan authorities and make sure that we fund things that promote freedom of speech, particularly in the run-up to the elections?

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Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for highlighting these issues. I assure her that when I visited Rwanda between 15 and 17 June I raised these very matters at all levels, including the very highest levels, in the various meetings I had. It is important that as part of the general support that DFID gives to help the Rwandan people, we press for the opening up of political space and that we make sure that pertains up to the election. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will take the opportunity, later this week in a meeting with the Rwandan high commissioner, to press the issues that the hon. Lady has rightly identified.

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