How effective is freedom of expression and press in South Sudan

Guest Writer

By Agoku Christine Taban

May 3rd is the World Press Freedom Day and South Sudan is among the countries which will commemorate this important day but what is the meaning of World Press Freedom Day? Every year, on this date, the world celebrates the fundamental principles of press freedom and to evaluate the press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession

In South Sudan, communities to understand how absolute is freedom of expression and press in regard to the responsibilities of media and journalists and the other stakeholders. The roles of Media and Journalists are to inform through gathering and disseminating news, entertain and educate.

The questions the citizens will be asking are, if it’s clearly stated in the Media Authority Act that journalists should not be arrested and harassed by stakeholders but rather report any unethical behavior to the Media Authority. Why are there cases of journalists being harassed and arrested? If Journalists are like any human being in the eyes of the law [the Transition Constitution of South Sudan 2011] who deserve to enjoy the same democratic, human rights. Why is it that some of the journalists in this country have experienced abductions and detention beyond the lawful time limit in the constitution without taking for trial? What needs to be done to ensure South Sudan is a free environment for media practitioners?

The above-mentioned situations made some of the journalists escape out from this country for safety and seek asylum in foreign countries, others dropped the profession they are talented and have total interests of working within their country.

The citizens in this country are well aware of how other leaders talk like, “we don’t teargas but live bullets”, and such statements are spoken to warn the youths who came out to protest about the skyrocketing prices of food items due to the inflation. During the protest, some journalists were arrested and detained for quite long period of time. The journalists felt it is their responsibility to gather the stories and inform the public on what is going on, hence concerned Authorities can take productive decisions the help their communities.

Giving very scaring warning to the arrested and abduct journalists made the number of the journalists to quite journalism. Some are jobless now.

 Media practitioners and other stakeholders need to bridge the gaps to make work for journalists easier and the Government should also continue to respect the freedom of expression and let the amended laws not to remain in the hands of few to mishandle it.

Journalists as they carry on their duties should be aware of their ethics. Let’s stand for the truth and let the celebration of World press Freedom Day be meaningful in this country by freeing South Sudan from the slavery of Press Freedom and attacks, harassment, arrestment.

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