National, News

Gov’t, media embrace freedom of expression

By Jurugo Emmanuel Ogasto


South Sudan, on Friday joined rest of the world in commemorating World Press Freedom Day 2024 under the theme “Protect the citizens’ rights to free expression and media freedom before and after election.”

Speaking during the event in Juba, Oyet Patrick, President of Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS), commended the government for establishing institutions that promote and safeguard media development in the country.

He said the government has played a key role in helping journalists exercise their duties in a free environment after a long battle with security agencies in the country.

Mr. Oyet, however, appealed to the authorities to continue supporting and protecting citizens and allow them to have freedom of speech.

He also appealed for funding from the media fraternity to ensure quality services are delivered to the people.

“We urge the government to allow the people to speak freely. We want to see a country where if somebody speaks and, during the speaking, they violate the law, people are taken to court. But we don’t want a situation where people are stopped from speaking,’’ Oyet said.

He also urged journalists to embrace peace and harmony among themselves.

“We must speak with one voice; it is very unfortunate that at times we have disagreements among ourselves over nothing.

The UJOSS president underlined low payments for media workers and articles being removed from newspapers as some of the pressing challenges media personnel are facing.

Meanwhile, Josephine Achiro, Chairperson of the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS), a media organization representative, said the government should include and engage the media to promote perfect democracy in the country.

“Democracy is on the agenda; let the citizens of this country speak their minds,” she stated. ‘’Media need to be supported; we are not destroyers of the country, but we bridge the gap between the government and the people of South Sudan.”

Meanwhile, Aly-Khan Rajani, Ambassador of Canada to South Sudan, appealed to the government to allow freedom of expression in the country.

He said the government of Canada will remain committed to ensuring South Sudan remains peaceful.

Elijha Alier Kuai, Managing Director of the Media Authority, in his keynote remarks, urged journalists to maintain the importance of ethical journalism to win public trust.

“Independent journalists are the critical actors in helping society separate facts from fiction and make informed decisions,” he emphasized. “We must all strive to uphold the highest standards of professionalism and integrity in our work.”

He revealed that 280 media entities have been licensed to operate in the country.

Jacob Maijuk Korok, Deputy National Minister of Information and Communication, acknowledged that the government is aware that some journalists were brutally assaulted by security agencies and promised to stop the act by engaging with stakeholders.

“The government is working tirelessly to address some of this issue to ensure that the space is conducive for all of you to do your work,’’ he assured.

He appealed to the media and civil society organizations to continue expressing their rights responsibly.

Government security organs such as the National Security Service (NSS) have been severally accused of harassment, intimidation, and arbitrarily detention of journalists.

Meanwhile, rights advocacy groups have also blamed the legislature for failing to enact key laws to protect freedom of expression. As a result, this fundamental right has been increasingly eroded in South Sudan since the country’s independence in 2011.

However, the media authority presented positive reports, which indicate that no journalist is currently in detention.


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