REPUBLIC OF SOUTH SUDAN
8 May 09, 2019: Juba Grand Hotel
World Press Freedom Day 2019: May 03, 2019.
“Media for Democracy and Peace: Contributing to Sustainable Peace and Democracy”
It is very sad that we are celebrating World press freedom day, 2019, without our veteran and an award winning journalist, Hon. Alfred Taban Logune, who passed on in Kampala, Uganda on 27 April 2019.
In this occasion, let’s celebrate Hon. Alfred Taban Logune’s achievements and his contributions in the development of media industry by embracing culture of peace and tolerance in South Sudan. Late Hon. Logune was an advocate for good governance and respect for human rights through media during the struggle for the independent of our country.
The Media Authority, media fraternity and the country have lost an asset and a partner in the development of Media in South Sudan.
We are here today to commemorate the freedom of expression and media as a fundamental and universal human right, protected under Article 24 of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011, as amended. It is a right of every citizen to be informed, have access to information and exercise freedoms and rights within the context of the laws.
As Media Authority, we have a moral obligation to create a conducive media regulatory environment that encourages the development of South Sudanese values and artistic creativity through media. Freedom of expression itself carries responsibility from citizens to be mindful of other important freedoms and rights deemed to be in the public interest.
The Media Authority is a bridge for building healthy relationships among media stakeholders and to protect the image of South Sudan from misleading, malicious and damaging information that cannot be authenticated.
We have a duty of care and collective responsibility to protect and promote responsible media in the interest of South Sudan.
Media Authority take this opportunity to inform this occasion of World Press Freedom day 2019, that there are no journalists in any prison in South Sudan as of today. The Media environment has been very conducive during National Dialogue throughout the country. Citizens were able to express themselves freely without interferences, harassment and intimidation from anybody and law enforcement agencies.
The national media has been very active in covering and disseminating National Dialogue’s information to the public. This clearly demonstrated the spirit of freedom of expression and opinion as stipulated in our constitution.
A total of 714 international journalists have been accredited to perform their functions since February 2017, 131 media houses have been issued with media operational licenses to operate as required by laws of which 56 are radio stations, 7 Television Channels, 41 print media, 7 advocacy groups and 20 other media enterprises.
The Media Authority in collaboration with Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) acknowledged the positive contributions from Global Affairs Canada through Canadian Embassy in South Sudan for supporting government’s policies that enhanced and strengthened the media development in the country. The Authority and JHR were able to sensitize at least 750 officials from the government institutions at states and national levels, security sector and the media fraternity on the importance of media laws in promoting freedom of expression and respect for human rights.
Through the support from Canadian Government, the Authority was able to produced and disseminated 1000 copies of the Media Authority Act, 2013, and 1900 copies of Media Authority’s Internal Rules and Regulations, 2018.
The Catholic Radio Network has positively contributed in broadcasting sector by sponsoring 8 community radios in various states. USAID and Internews also supported the establishment 9 community radios. Japanese Embassy through JICA for the technical support to SSBC. NPA and UNESCO have been supporting media awareness workshops through AMDISS, UJOSS, NEF and other media advocacy groups.
The media houses and associations are now very clear with their roles in the media sector. Government institutions and security organs channel their concerns through media authority.
Some of the partners and donors are still having misconceptions on how to work in coordination with the Media Authority by creating parallel media forums through unrecognised media entities that are hostile to the country and the government.
There is a need to organise forums to sensitize partners about the role of the government and media from the perspectives of the guiding principles and policies in order to minimize most of the misunderstandings about the media laws.
Promotion of conflicts through media on ethnic lines and use of tribes’ names to advance individual interest or political agenda have been the most dangerous hate speech in South Sudan during the conflict.
Both national and international media became more responsible in detecting and addressing issues with potential hate speech and incitement to violence. Ethnic based hate speech reporting has significantly reduced in the media sector during 2018.
The media Authority acknowledged the efforts being exerted by Editors in Chief from print media for standing tall in minimizing hate speech base reporting. Some of the broadcast media houses have now adopted no hate speech policy in their programming and audiences or listeners are frequently cautioned about the consequences of promoting hate speech.
Hate Speech are sayings/expressions/preaching which offend other people and their feelings. It ignites conflicts, incites violence and create hatred. Let’s unite to fight hate speech together in order to prosper as a nation.
The media environment in South Sudan has significantly improved during 2018; from 144 to 139 according to the global index ranking on freedom of expression and media report 2019.
Media projects’ justifications and partners/donors’ conditions remained as the main bottleneck hindering media development in South Sudan. This negatively contributed to South Sudan Global Index Ranking on Freedom of Expression, 2019.
The Government has limited resources to support the media development while media partners lack capacity to support media activities for the last three years.
The media will continue to improve when we own the media in context of South Sudan’s media legal framework that is consistent with international standards, and citizen develop a sense of nationalism and patriotism to the country. The Media Authority encourage participatory development of media that is inclusive and gender sensitive.
Contributing to Sustainable Peace and Democracy in South Sudan requires collective responsibility from the Government, media fraternity and stakeholders to demonstrate mutual commitment towards vibrant and professional media that promote good governance and respect for human rights.
What can we do as media sector to promote peaceful coexistent for all to live in harmony. By following the principle of journalism: Accuracy, independency, impartiality and accountability with a sense of humanity in all media reporting.
Media Authority remain committed for the development of independent, professional and pluralistic media in the public interest.
Together, Let’s embrace the culture of peace and tolerance, to coexist and prosper as a nation as we promote the development of free media.
Photo by Samir Bol Photograpy