​CHOGM: Commonwealth Secretariat blocks journalists seeking to cover Rwanda summit – CPJ

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The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) wants the Commonwealth Secretariat to ensure that all journalists can freely cover the upcoming summit in Rwanda.

The central institution of the Commonwealth of Nations coordinates activities and supports members.

CPJ warned the agency not to allow the press accreditation process for attendance to be used as a political tool.

The biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which brings together 54 leaders, is slated for Rwanda from June 20 to 25.

CPJ said the secretariat informed Benedict Moran, a Canadian journalist, that his application to cover the summit had been denied.

Moran had reported President Paul Kagame’s alleged involvement in war crimes and the alleged disinformation campaigns targeting government critics.

Also declined was the application of Anjan Sundaram, the author of ‘Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship’, a book about free speech curtailing in Rwanda.

They were reportedly denied because they were not working for “recognized media outlets”. Moran earlier got permission to report from Rwanda.

Other foreign correspondents disclosed that despite filing their requests before the May 23 deadline, they had not received authorization as of Friday.

CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, Angela Quintal expressed concern that many who applied have yet to receive a reply.

Quintal urged the secretariat to reverse the situation, grant Moran and Sundaram access, and give all journalists “unfettered access”.

The Commonwealth responded by saying: “Suggestions that there is any attempt to limit media access don’t hold up to scrutiny. Over 700 journalists are being accredited.”

Rwandan government spokesman, Yolande Makolo told CPJ that the accredited journalists’ list tendered to the administration did not include Moran or Sundaram.

Moran has contributed to Al-Jazeera, PBS Newshour, The New Yorker, National Geographic, The Mail and Guardian.

Sundaram, an Indian, has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, Politico, The Observer, and Foreign Policy.

​CHOGM: Commonwealth Secretariat blocks journalists seeking to cover Rwanda summit – CPJ

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