Rwanda: YouTube Offences – Authorities Rely on Public Reporting Amid Challenges in Monitoring

Authorities in Rwanda are facing difficulties in tracking down offences committed via YouTube, prompting them to place their trust in public reports of content that violates the law.

Incidents involving unlawful content on YouTube are not new in Rwanda, with the recent arrest of four YouTubers suspected of using children in pornography-related videos drawing attention to the issue.

Emmanuel Mugisha, the Executive Secretary of the Rwanda Media Commission (RMC), acknowledged the challenge in monitoring the vast number of content creators, estimated to be around 200,000 in Rwanda.

With such a large number, it becomes increasingly difficult for authorities to effectively track and take action against offenders. As a solution, Mugisha emphasized the importance of engaging the public in reporting unethical and immoral behavior to assist the authorities.

In Rwanda, various laws govern online engagements, including the 2018 Law on the Prevention and Punishment of Cybercrimes, which outlines the different online offenses and their corresponding penalties. Additionally, there are other laws that play a crucial role in promoting responsible use of information technology, such as the 2018 law relating to the protection of children.

The law on prevention and punishment of cybercrimes, for example, stipulates that prosecution for offenses like phishing, impersonation, and cyberstalking can only proceed upon a complaint from the offended party.

Mugisha stressed the need for extensive public sensitization to empower individuals to identify content that violates the law and report it accordingly. While YouTube has community rules against explicit sexual content, Mugisha pointed out that the platform’s Artificial Intelligence capabilities do not fully understand languages like Kinyarwanda, allowing illegal videos to bypass the AI filters and remain accessible on the platform.