AMDISS urges the government to uphold media freedom, open civic space, and ensure the safety and protection of journalists, February 2024.

Yesterday, the AMDISS team met with Hon. Michael Makuei Lueth, Minister of Information, Communication, Technology, and Postal Services in his office.

During the meeting, AMDISS briefed the minister on the issues affecting media freedom in South Sudan, such as the continued removal of articles from the newspapers, harassment of journalists, heavy fines imposed on the media houses, and confiscation of media gadgets among others.

“Hon. Minister, seeing newspapers circulating with blank spaces is not good for the country. It demonstrates the extent of media censorship and this tarnishes the image of the country. There are better ways to address media issues rather than deleting articles already passed by editors who are supposed to be the final people as far as media is concerned,” said AMDISS’ Director, Ms. Ayaa Irene Lokang.

On his part, Mr. Chuol Jany, the Deputy Secretary of AMDISS expressed concern over the safety of journalists, saying “In Juba, it is hard for journalists to interview people on the streets. If you are seen with a camera on the street, you are arrested.”

“This is not good. Just a few weeks ago, a journalist working for CGTN had his documents confiscated simply because he was capturing video footage on the street. This is very wrong,” he lamented.

Chuol pled to the government to remove restrictions imposed by the security apparatus on the media, appealing to the government to instead give a chance for media pluralism, and cooperate with the media to bridge the information gaps in the country.

AMDISS also briefed the minister on its commitment to continue training journalists through the Media Development Institute, an institute whose objective is to professionalize the media in the country.

The minister in his response, acknowledged the positive role of the media and the effort by AMDISS in training journalists and advocating for a vibrant media in South Sudan. However, cautioned journalists against publishing negative stories that incite violence and cause divisions in the community.

“We all know the importance of media in our country. But the media should be professional. The media should not be used to incite violence. The work of the government is to see that the media is used responsibly and professionally, but if you target an individual’s personality, then you would be taken to the court,” Makuei warned.

Minister Michael Makuei acknowledged the fact that there is a lack of understanding between the media and the security and he said the government will organize a workshop that will bring together journalists and the security sector to dialogue and find a way to mend their relationship.

AMDISS and Minister Michael Makuei used the opportunity to exchange ideas on media freedom, the safety of journalists, and creating a suitable environment for the media to start

The meeting was part of AMDISS’ media campaign initiative to advocate for a conducive environment for media and journalists to operate freely without censorship and fear of intimidation, arrest, and confiscation of media gadgets at a time the country prepares for its first-ever general elections in December this year.

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