Johannesburg – The careers and future of cartoonists in Rwanda are under threat following the Rwandan government’s decision to outlaw cartoons that portray politicians in an “unflattering” manner.
Parliament passed the new law last month and is awaiting approval from President Paul Kagame who has been accused by human rights groups of ruling the East African country with an iron fist, brooking no political dissent or criticism.
In the likelihood of the law being approved by Kagame anyone convicted of breaking it risks imprisonment of up to two years and a fine of up to Rwf1 million, the Global Information Network reported (GIN).
If the cartoon targets a session of parliament or a “top-ranking official,” the penalty is doubled.
Rwanda’s Journalists Association has slammed the ban saying not only is it a huge blow to the media profession but will greatly hamper the work of journalists and cartoonists.
"In the trade of journalism, cartoons are by nature humorous… leaders may perceive them negatively or as humiliating even when they’re not," the association’s executive secretary Gonza Muganwa said.
Defaming the president is already illegal and those found guilty of this face five to seven years in prison and a fine of $8 140.
African News Agency (ANA)