Journalists demand free working space

By Taban Henry

South Sudan Journalists are demanding a free space to enable them work without interference from the security organs.

This was revealed during the breakfast that was organized by the Union of Journalists with support from the Norwegian Embassy in Juba.

The breakfast meeting was meant to discuss cooperation and challenges the Journalists are facing in South Sudan.

Speaking during the session, Oyet Patrick, the president for the Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS) said journalists should not be intimidated especially at a time when the country is implementing the peace agreement.

“The constitutional making process is ongoing, the parliament is looking at the budget and this requires us the journalists to report, we need people to understand what is going on if it is a budget what is it that we have for agriculture, education and for health. People wanted to know. Journalists are partners in development and the constitutional making process. Journalists are supposed to report and provide civic education for people to participate and understand the process,” Oyet said.

He revealed that elections are coming according to the agreement and we as journalists are to carry civic education so that people understand why they are needed to vote. We believe that we are partners when it comes to issues to do with.

“On a bigger note, the peace agreement is being implemented and people need to know what have been implemented and what has not been implemented and it is our work as journalists to make sure people understands what is needed of them,” he added.

The Deputy Police Spokesperson Brig. James Dak Carlo said that they have been hearing a lot of challenges in regards to the journalists being intimidated, arrested and so forth without charges actually.

He mentioned that the media is the fourth arm of the government after the executive, judiciary and the legislature citing it as a pity that journalists are being harassed.

“I have a golden principle which our law enforcement agencies should abide with. We are constitutionally mandated through the transitional constitution 2011 to enforce law and protect the lives of every citizen and properties as well as journalists,” he said.

The Deputy Police spokesperson stressed that the bill of rights which is already in the constitution said every accused shall have rights of fair trial and justice shall not be delayed, no punishment shall be inflicted to the accused until he is proved guilty beyond reasonable doubts, “no person shall be entitled to torture and mistreatment, these rules are supposed to be followed and obeyed by our people”.

“Most harassments are done by the national security bodies of which they are supposed to be here to answer these questions, most arrests are done by the police out of this are violated by the law we are supposed to be friendly to journalists because they report on daily basis what is going on,” he explained.

Meanwhile Sapana Abui, the Director General for Media Compliance at the Media Authority said that, “we started from a difficult situation towards a safer and smooth trend compared to where we have been before. When we look into the three Ps which are prevent, protect and persecute is being recognized and implemented in one way or the other.

He mentioned that the government has a role to protect journalists by developing laws which is a tool to protect journalists and the media.

“It is a matter to be made clear as journalists, journalism should be taken as a profession but not a job which is our biggest problem so who ever collects and disseminate information claiming to be a journalist, this is where the situation is complicated for the real journalists doing their jobs and are mistaken by those who are not journalists,” he said.

For his part the chairperson for the specialized committee of information and communication in the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly John Agany stressed that South Sudan is a new nation which has passed through a number of difficulties and struggles. Agany said fighting for lives and freedom should not threaten the people citing that it’s unbecoming for a country that became a nation through a lot of struggles but tries to violate the rights of the people who voted for.

“It’s very painful to have some of our colleagues who most of the time tries to misunderstand the legal framework of the Republic of South Sudan, its very unfortunate South Sudan is a country full of the bill of rights with the basic laws which can make us move. We respect human beings and humans by ourselves,” he mentioned.

Agany cited that the humanity of this country is underscored by some of the friends whom he described to have supported the country.

“The professionalism of every working class in the world is always realized and respected that way it operates but if people decided by any means to use the baseless to discredit the government. The government has the right to remain defensive and continue defending its self,” he explained.

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