National, News

Journalists warned against infringing on privacy

By Charles K Mark


Some senior government officials have warned journalists against reporting on the private lives of some officials and public figures.

They issued the caution to journalists on Thursday at an event organized to commemorate this year’s International Day to End Impunity on Crimes Against Journalists in Juba.

Chairperson of the Specialized Committee for Information at the National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) and spokesperson of the parliament, John Agany, who spoke at the occasion, accused some journalists of keenly following up politicians with ill agendas to expose their privacy.

Agany cited the biblical story of King David in the Bible, saying that, like David, who killed Uriah and took his wife, some journalists deserve to be treated as the first child born to David by Uriah’s wife Bethsheba.

“Yes, I’m not threatening. I’m telling you the truth. I will not be on any occasion to kill any one of you,” Agany lowered his tone.

The parliament spokesperson also accused some journalists of being practical agents of foreign policies.

Agany stated that some journalists buy into the idea of serving foreigners who claim to be regime changes with the purpose of making regime change a reality.

“But you don’t know what is coming with them. They are coming with the colonial mind,” he cautioned.

He said British colonists left 70 years ago but left the people in a poor state of life.

“Some of us could not even see cars. Some of us were very nasty in our way of doing things, and these are the Kawajat (whites) you are still following. Not the Kawajat sitting here; I hope they are the good ones,” he exclaimed.

Mr. Aganyi revealed that collaboration with such agents of regime change is like placing a sharp knife in one’s own neck.

“Let me tell you, you are putting a sharp knife in your own throat. You are using a sharp knife—a knife that can cut your own throat,” the lawmaker warned.

For his part, Major General Lul Ruai Koang, spokesperson of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF), also echoed that journalists should cease intruding into the private lives of some prominent people.

“There are functions that are clearly made private. And one good example I could recall was when the late president of Zimbabwe was married in 1997,” he said.

Gen. Lul said when Mugabe was marrying his wife Grace, he (Mugabe) made it very clear that journalists were not wanted, but when they went to Victorian halls, a journalist sneaked into the venue.

“So, when he was caught, Robert Mugabe asked, Did I invite you? Why did you come? He went as far as asking the journalist When you were marrying, did you invite me to your wedding? And the guy was charged with infringement of privacy?” Lul cited.

The SSPDF spokesperson also alleged that many journalists find themselves trapped in a situation of no retreat because of their plans to get money.


John Henry, a student from the University of Juba, was not happy about the way some of the officials addressed issues related to journalists.

Henry said he was not impressed by the way government officials addressed the complaints of the journalists.

“I’m not fully convinced because there were some strict questions that were asked, and the questions were not fully answered,” he said.

Like the question of restrictions on journalists, Henry thinks there is some news that cannot be told without hearing from other sides.

For the sake of neutrality and impartiality, ethics tell journalists to seek facts and truth and report as they are.

The student argued that blocking journalists from finding facts hinders them from accurately reporting on facts.

Another attendant at the event, Michael Gai Tong, program manager for Duk Padiet community radio station, appreciated the organization of the event for them to interact with the authorities.

Gai said networking afforded him ample time to share with the authorities.

“So we have been discussing a lot of challenges, especially areas of relations and work relations. And then we were able to get some lessons learned,” he said.

Gai hopes that next time he gets a chance to meet and ask specific questions to officials from the National Security Service and the National Police Service, among others.

Aluel Madut Caesar, a student and a media practitioner, recalled a situation in which she and a team went to film an event but were blocked by people who claimed to be security authorities.

Aluel said even when they presented a letter of authorization from the media authority, the officials threatened to detain them until they paid some money.

“Things that are happening outside there, things we’re facing as media practitioners outside there, it’s not easy. We come here, and we talk, and we talk. But implementation is going to be hard,” she lamented.

The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists (IDEI) is UN-recognized international day observed annually on 2nd November.

The day draws attention to the level of impunity for crimes against journalists, which remains extremely high globally.


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