Statement

Statement of Ambassador Chris Trott on Media freedom in South Sudan

Media Freedom:  2020 – South Sudan

  • The UK remains committed to Media Freedom, and to championing democracy and human rights around the world.  Independent media is essential to a functioning society leading to greater stability and prosperity, and here in South Sudan the media has a critical role holding the parties accountable for the commitments they made in the peace agreement.  Free media also has a vital role to play in the international COVID-19 response. 
  • UK is working with AMDISS to counter misinformation.  The project seeks to ensure the provision of accurate  information aboiut COVID19 working closely with Ministry of Health and WHO contacts in South Sudan .  It involves the training of (30) journalists to provide them with the skills to improve the tracking of online and offline media ( including radio)  to counter misinformation as well as work directly with community leaders and community groups.  
  • We believe that people must be able to discuss and debate issues freely.  When we are all able to debate ideas without fear of persecution, we all benefit from the originality and creativity of the entire population and are better able to make informed decisions.
  • According to RSF, South Sudan is ranked 138/180 in the 2020 world press freedom index.  But situation remains challenging with at least ten journalists killed since 2014. (RSF website).  And we hear regular reports of journalists detained for doing their jobs.  This is unacceptable, as is the random censorship that leaves blank sections of our newspapers here in Juba.  
  • The UK launched the Media Freedom Campaign in Nov 2018 to shine a global spotlight on media freedom and increase the cost to those abusing media freedom and persecuting journalists. 
  • In July 2019, the UK and Canada co-hosted the Global Conference for Media Freedom in London.  The Conference was the first of its kind.  It brought together 1500 journalists, Ministers, jurists and representatives of civil society, from more than 100 countries, to shine a spotlight on abuses of media freedom, and to agree how best to address these threats.   Pleased that representatives from South Sudan attended the conference.  
  • In South Sudan we are planning to assist to further improve the capacity of those working within media institutions to provide factual and verified news articles and at the same time promote harmonious working relationships with all stakeholders.  Media freedom is vital to open societies and journalists must be able to investigate and report without undue interference.  Pleased to play a role in helping to support and promote a free and independent media in South Sudan.  
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