Lack of civic space suppresses press freedom

By Adia Jildo

The Charge de Affaires of U.S. David Renz has said that press freedom has been threatened by lack of civic space as journalists still face threats when practicing their duties.

He made the speech during the World Press Freedom Day which was scheduled for 13th May 2022 citing that the country’s index is 128 globally by reporters without borders.

He said that the freedom house America ranked South Sudan as a non-freedom state, rating it 1 out of 100 and minus 3 (-3) on the schedule of political rights.

“No doubt the government will deny its censor of the press and will object to these benchmarks. These are not the hallmarks of a country that respects freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, or freedom of the press. This is not a country with civil space,” he said.

David asserted that the free press is needed to enable change and enable change of ideas to enable a robust environment.

“Unrestricted dialogue is the only way to forge national consensus on South Sudan’s future,” he said.

David called on the Media Authority to redouble efforts that will enable journalists work in a safe environment.

Sorghum John, a journalist working for South Sudan Broadcasting Cooperation (SSBC) said that despite the harsh climate caused as journalists work, some journalists and authorities still do not know the interpretation of the Media Laws.

Sapana Abui, the director General for Media Compliance in Media Authority said that the freedom of expression in South Sudan has improved as South Sudan has moved to 128 out of 180 in the world press freedom index compared to the previous number of 139 citing improvement in the media landscape of South Sudan as well as widening the space for freedom of expression as freedom of expression is one of the fundamental rights that everyone ought to have.

He said that journalists need to work in a professional manner as required by their ethics to enable them give rightly information for public consumption.

“Journalists are actually encouraged to follow the journalistic conduct and also do their work within the framework of the law,” he said.

Abuyi said that the Media Authority will enable training and build capacity of media as well as increasing its coverage of news countrywide.

“By training the media workers to understand the law such that through the law, they will be able to protect themselves, know their rights and work professionally within the confinement of the law,” he narrated.

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