First inter-university media competition held in South Sudan
The first-ever inter-university media competition was held in Juba on 28th April attracting journalism students from all walks of life.
The event was organized by the Youth Media Initiative South Sudan (YMISS), a non-profit making organization that recognized the best English news Anchor, best Arabic news anchor, best news live reporter, and best radio magazine.
The event held at the premises of the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) was attended by journalism students from Starford International University, University of Juba, Destiny University, Star International University, and Media Development Institute (MDI).
Ayaa Irene, the Principal of the Media Development Institute, thanked the participants for submitting their work to the competition.
“It is important to celebrate the good work and appreciate the efforts put together in achieving something like this award,” Irene said during the ceremony in Juba.
Media Development Institute emerged winner in the category of best radio magazine.
“This is the first ever Inter-University Media competition organized for higher learning institutions in Juba, and it’s also the first attempt of the Media Development Institute to compete in this high-level competition,” Irene disclosed.
Invitation letters for participation in the media competition were extended to the organizer (YMISS), Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS), and South Sudan Media Authority.
Achiro Josephine, secretary of AMDISS, said board members will try their best to register MDI with the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, and Technology.
By Madrama James
Pope Francis calls for healing, reconciliation in South Sudan
Pope Francis on February 4th, 2023 visited South Sudan where he called on political leaders to implement the 2018 revitalized peace deal whose implementation remains slow.
The trip is Francis’s 40th abroad since he was elected the head of the Catholic Church in 2013.
He was received by President Salva Kiir, First Vice President Riek Machar, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields.
Pope Francis started his fifth visit to Africa on February 2nd in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
“In the name of God, the God in whom so many people of South Sudan believe, now is the time to say ‘no more of this:’ No more bloodshed, no more violence, no more leaving your people a thirst for peace. Leave the time of war behind and let a time of peace dawn!” said the Pontiff while addressing the gathering at the Presidential office in the capital Juba.
In July 2022, the papal visit was called off due to a persistent knee ailment that confined Pope Francis to a wheelchair.
His visit follows the trips made by Pope John Paul II to Sudan in 1980 and 1985 respectively.
Francis appealed to South Sudanese to shun hatred and revenge, and any other acts that may trigger violence between tribes and ethnic groups.
In 2019, the leaders of the Catholic, Anglican, and Scottish churches met at the Vatican with President Salva Kiir and his First Vice President Riek Machar to encourage the duo to salvage a stalled peace deal signed in 2018.
In an act that stunned the world, Francis knelt and kissed the duo’s feet, urging them not to return the country to war after both men had been accused of war crimes during years of fighting since December 2013.
South Sudan became independent in 2011, but two years later it plunged into conflict which killed tens of thousands and displaced more than two million both internally and externally.
Media development institute admits 27 students for the journalism course
At least 27 students out of 60 applicants have been admitted to study journalism certificate courses at the Media Development Institute (MDI) in Juba.
Among the successful candidates include 10 female and 17 male students.
The 7th batch of students applied for the certificate course on Friday 9th September 2022.
Ayaa Irene, the Principal of MDI, says this year’s intake is higher compared to previous years.
She says the number of students is expected to increase in the next years.
Michael Duku, Director of the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) advised students to take journalism training seriously.
Adding that media plays a crucial role in nurturing democracy in all countries across the world.
The event was attended by Director General for Media Compliance in the South Sudan Media Authority, Sapana Abuyi, and the Country Director of Norwegian Church Aid among others.
South Sudan official hails the media’s role in empowering society.
The media has been applauded for informing and shaping public narratives within South Sudan.
Moyiga Nduru, the Access to Information Commissioner says the media plays an important role in influencing public opinion in South Sudan.
“Media guides society and I urge journalists to report accurate information,” Nduru said during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day in Juba on Wednesday.
“A few days ago a radio station used the word fugitive to describe returnees who fled conflict in Khartoum to Renk. If you are a South Sudanese fleeing from Khartoum to Renk you are a returnee and if you are fleeing to South Sudan as a foreigner you are a refugee,” he adds.
World Press Freedom Day celebrations were held at the premises of the National Communication Authority (NCA).
Nduru says the media has a significant role in promoting development and unity in the country.
For example, he says radio stations focus mostly on entertainment such as music and yet they are supposed to balance entertainment with news programs and educative programs.
“In our African tradition, entertainment takes place after harvest,” Nduru says.
He advises the media to come up with community awareness programs on development and other social issues.
“The media should also focus on problems facing farmers in the country and the challenges female traders encounter in the markets,” Nduru said.
Item Jacob, the representative of Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), says the media’s most important role is to inform and educate the public about ongoing developments in various parts of the country.
“We as NPA should continue supporting Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) to train young journalists on media development programs,” Jacob says.
He appeals to the government to allow journalists to have access to information without media censorship.
By Robert Jimmy Doka
Media authority says 123 media houses are active in South Sudan
By Chol Johnson Deng
The head of the South Sudan Media Authority, Elijah Alier Kuai says there are currently 123 accredited active media houses out of more than 250 that were offered operation licenses.
Kuai says most of the media houses have shut down operations due to the prevailing economic hardship in the country.
He was speaking during a celebration of World Press Freedom Day in Juba on Wednesday.
He reveals that they have licensed more than 100 radio stations to operate, adding that this category includes public, commercial, and community radios. He says that over 10 television broadcasting channels and newspapers have been licensed to operate.
In addition, he says six international satellites, nine advocacy groups, and more than 70 media enterprises have been cleared to operate.
Kuai also says that accredited journalists are unhindered when it comes to accessing public information.
“We have legal and moral obligations to regulate and promote responsible media that protects the territorial integrity and sovereignty of South Sudan,” Kuai says.
He adds that journalists have a moral obligation to report accurate and balanced news to avoid misleading the public.
“As we celebrate the 30th anniversary 0f World Press Freedom Day, it is an opportunity for media stakeholders to reflect on freedom of expression as a fundamental human right in South Sudan. I am happy that no journalists have been jailed for journalism mistakes,” Kuai says.
Lily Adhieu Manyiel Ayuel, Press Secretary in the office of the President, says they are working to ensure journalists have unfettered access to the President’s office.
We want to grant journalists direct access to information and news from the state house. We continue to engage with media practitioners and the government will address these issues. I finally appeal to all journalists to remain passionate and stick to the principles of professional journalists which are accurate and fair reporting based on facts without bias,” Ayuel says.
She adds that any attempt by journalists to compromise these principles leads to propaganda and misinformation.
By Chol Johnson Deng
AMDISS Applauds the unity government and UNMISS for reaching a consensus on the status of Radio Miraya
AMDISS is concerned over the confiscation of media equipment
Today, our Secretary-General Ms. Josephine Achiro advised the female journalists to make use of opportunities in the media space in order to gain recognition and advance their careers.
“Female journalists, please make use of available opportunities in the media space to gain recognition and advance their careers,” Achiro Advised.
Josephine was giving her comments during the General Assembly Meeting of FJN.
Pictorials of Nimule Outreach training.
Fear AI, media pundit cautions student journalists, July 2023.
By staff writer
The Chairperson of the Executive Board of the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS), Koang Pal Chang, who is also the Station Manager of Eye Radio advised the student journalists to redouble their efforts to learn new digital skills to fend off the looming threats to their jobs pose by the invention of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Addressing a digital conference organized for student journalists drawn from four public and private universities operating in Juba, Koang said some jobs are already under threat, voicing concerns that if the developers of AI push further with their digital advancement, the journalism profession would be taken over by the AI as employers would be contented deploy machines to entertain, education and inform the public more efficiently.
At least 50 participants participated in the conference organized by the Media Development Institute (MDI), the training wing of AMDISS under the theme “Freedom of Expression in the Era of Digital Media” at AMDISS Centre on Thursday 20th July 2023. The conference was supported by the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) through its media support project.
“We should be worried about Artificial Intelligence because it is coming to take our work as journalists,” Koang said. “Now media employers can use AI to produce and publish a public service announcement and there is no need for human beings to be there in the studio because it can use someone’s voice. I can just command Sarah Atoj’s voice and AI can finish the rest. It can produce that voice exactly like Sarah Atoj. I can only hire the voice of Sarah Loki and AI can do the rest. We should be worried as journalists,” Koang emphasized.
Koang said Eye Radio one time tested AI in its news programming and it produced a satisfactory result.
He advised the journalists to update their skills and move from traditional media to digital media to catch up with the rest of the world.
“We tried AI in our newsroom. We commanded AI to suggest the lead story and it does perfectly. It suggested what the people like. It knows what the listeners like. We must pull our socks up so that AI does not take our jobs. But, AI will not go to the field to collect the news. Employers will still need people to go to the field to collect the news. There are things that AI cannot do and also there are things that AI can do. Technology comes with a lot of things. Get updated to compete with the AI in the job market,” Koang urged.
On her part, the Acting Director of Ms. Ayaa Irene Lokang, who doubles as the Principal of MDI appealed to the student journalists to utilize the AMDISS/MDI Peace Centre and Resource Centre to upgrade their digital knowledge to compete in the jobs industry and career enhancement.
Irene said though the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan preserves the rights to freedom of expression and press freedom, these rights should be practiced responsibly to avoid making mistakes and violating the rights of others.
“As a journalist, the law is like your bible,” Irene said. “Freedom of expression is very wide. It is not only for journalists but it is for every human being. As a person, you need to express yourself in any place and at any time. Freedom of expression is a process of healing when somebody allows you to express yourself. As humans, we need to respect the freedom of other people whether we agree with them or not. Allow them to express themselves whether you like them or not. It comes with responsibility,” Irene stressed.
Meanwhile, the NPA Representative Managing the Media Rights Component under the Civil Society Development Program, Joyce Maker expressed the commitment of her organization to continue supporting the media activities in the country.
Joyce NPA remains the long-standing friend of the people of South Sudan and supported the Southerners during the armed struggle for justice and equality.
“I would like to say that we all know the good and bad of digital media,” Joyce said. “I would like you to take this opportunity to learn from each other and from the veteran journalists here who will be taking you all through the sessions to find ways on how you can be responsible for the use of digital media. It takes a strong heart for one to pursue journalism as a career. Soldiers go to the frontline with guns but you journalists go to the field with pen, book, and camera. So, it is as risky as it can get and I applaud you all for taking this path. You take full advantage of this opportunity to enrich your skills,” Joyce advised.
The inter-college conference was attended by Justice James Alala Deng who advised the student journalists to follow the ethics of journalism and media law seriously to avoid making mistakes in the newsrooms.
AMDISS calls for strengthening of cooperation between Media and Security organs ahead of the visit of Pope Francis to Juba, South Sudan.
AMDISS conducted a review workshop for Judges on enhancing a deeper understanding of the South Sudan Media Laws
March 29, 2022, Juba—AMDISS conducted a follow-up workshop for Judges to review the recommendations gathered from the past workshops conducted in 2021 and reflect more on how the media laws could be used to attain accountable and responsible media in the country.
The Director of AMDISS Mr. Michael Duku Aggrey said the workshop offers an opportunity for Judges to brainstorm on the interpretation of the media laws to help in safeguarding the work of journalists and media houses to operate ethically for the public good. He urged the judges to adjudicate the media offenses using the Media Authority Act 2013 to guarantee the safety of journalists in the country.
He disclosed that AMDISS through its training wing-Media Development Institute (MDI)-embedded media law and ethics as one of its courses in the one-year program as a way to equip journalists for professional media work after graduation.
“Last year, the Judges also recommended training of the media laws to the constitutional post-holders, security organs, and legislators. AMDISS as an advocacy organization has a mandate if resources permit to do this training at various levels. On Thursday 31 March, we are going to have another workshop with members of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly where we shall talk about the media laws. The Parliamentarians are the right people to make the laws and so if there are gaps in this discussion, it could be brought forward to engage with them. So, our advocacy is across the three organs of the government,” Duku stated.
The Secretary of the Board of AMDISS Ms. Josephine Achiro encouraged the Judges to share ideas on the need to establish a specialized court to try media-related offenses in the country. so that the Media Laws of the South find an appropriate avenue for its application just like other considerations accorded to the establishment of a special court on gender-based violence.
“Forum as this offers an opportunity for judges to discuss issues relating to media laws and other challenges affecting the freedom of expression in our country. There are cases where journalists are arrested and another one kidnapped by unknown people weeks ago. This specialized court will help in addressing such cases. The issue of defamation will be adjudicated in this specialized court as a civil wrong, not a criminal one. As AMDISS, we are happy to engage with the judiciary to strengthen the democracy in South Sudan,” Francis said.
Tom Carter, a British Embassy spokesperson in Juba reaffirmed his country’s readiness to continue supporting the national organizations working to promote freedom of expression in South Sudan.
Carter acknowledged the role of media in educating and disseminating accurate information of public interest, urging the judges to work hard in protecting human rights in South Sudan.
Justice Bol Lul Wang affirmed that some of the Judges did not get an opportunity to look through the media laws and therefore this opportunity is handy to look critically at some of the contradicting sections and interpreted it correctly.
AMDISS MEDIA / NEWS AND EVENTS
AMDISS trains judges on media laws, protection of journalists
AMDISS—26 May 2021, Juba
The Association for Media Development in South Sudan [AMDISS] in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] organized a two-day workshop for judges on enhancing the understanding of media laws and freedom of expression at AMDISS premises on Tuesday [26 May 2021].
Speaking during the opening session, the UNESCO Country Representative, Julius Banda said that freedom of expression is a driver of all sustainable development goals.
Mr. Julius Banda stressed the importance of upholding the freedom of expression and safety of journalists to fast-track the implementation of developmental projects in South Sudan.
“We believe that if a society is free; if people are free to express their views without fear of prosecution if the media is independent, free and journalists act freely without any sort of censorship or fear of prosecution, the society will be able to come to a consensus on the issues of development in the areas of health, education, infrastructure, accountability, and rule of law. If people are able to express their views in all these areas, you’re creating an enabling environment for sustainable development,” Banda said.
He disclosed that UNESCO was working very hard with many development actors to promote Article-19 and all the rights attached to it.
The universal declaration of human rights states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Julius Banda disclosed that UNESCO’s global approach is to build alliances with the other arms of the government in promoting the freedom of expression and the alliance that it will build with the judiciary to safeguard the media practitioners from rights violators.
“The judges hold in their hands the power to enforce the law and therefore, we believe we need to have this direct conversation that we are continuing to have on implications of defending these rights,” he added.
According to Julius Banda, one of the areas that need improvement in the media laws of South Sudan is the area of defamation. He stressed that the defamation case should be a civil matter to safeguard journalists from rights violators.
“We believe according to the international standards that defamation should not be under the criminal law but it should be part of the civil matters because we believe that the government should not be policing what people say or do to each other but rather if someone is offended and if there is indeed a case, it should go under court as a civil matter. This is the best practice that we see from the international standard and that is what we are discussing with the media authority and with the ministry of justice,” he said.
As the country is transitioning to a permanent constitution, a process that was launched yesterday [May 25, 2021] by the head of state, Mr. Julius Banda hopes that the freedom of expression will continue to be enshrined in the new constitution.
He also expressed a hopeful note that the bill of rights will remain a constitutional matter and as the country goes into the next constitution; the right to education and all the other rights will be protected by the supreme constitution of the Republic of South Sudan.
He hinted that UNESCO considers the media to be the fourth estate of government and that the constitutional process would be looking at the balance of power between the three main arms of the government; the executive, the parliament, and the judiciary.
“We hope that the judiciary would be independent as the international standard requires but also we hope to see the independence of the judiciary is being maintained in the constitution,” he further added.
He said UNESCO looks to the judiciary as an ally to enforce the laws to protect the rights of journalists especially when it comes to their safety.
“The freedom of expression is a constitutional right; it is part of the international declaration of human rights and therefore, it is an important right that needs to be protected. We take a multi-stakeholder approach in tackling issues of freedom of expression, press freedom, and safety of journalists because there are many actors,” he said.
On his part, the President of the Court of Appeal for Greater Equatoria Circuit, Justice Stephen Simon appealed to the newly appointed lawmakers to exert their efforts in formulating laws that promote the virtue of justice, peace, and equality in the country.
Justice Simon acknowledged the role of media in educating and sensitizing the people of South Sudan on matters of public interest.
“For us in the judiciary, we are mandated to see the cases when people have disputes. This is our duty. Education of our people on the issues of public interest is a key thing for South Sudan to come out from the anarchy we are in. Here, the media plays a very central role in educating and sensitizing our people. I would like to thank AMDISS for facilitating this workshop. If there is a chance for educating judges, we are ready,” Justice Simon said.
The Director of AMDISS, Mr. Michael Duku Aggrey advised the judges to familiarize themselves with the media laws and use the laws as a reference to the cases involving the journalists to avoid criminalization of journalists.
Michael Duku extended his appreciation to Chief Justice Chan Reec Madut and Justice Benjamin Baak Deng, the director for training and research at the Supreme Court for allowing twenty judges to participate in the follow-up workshop on enhancing understanding of the media laws and freedom of expression to improve the image of the country.
“Issues to do with media crimes and prosecution have been happening in this country. The media laws were signed in 2013 and up to now, there are a lot of media violations happening in the media sector and we need to work together to address this matter. We have very good laws in the country but the implementation of these laws is lacking. We need the judges to help us in the interpretation of the media laws,” Duku said.
Speaking on the same occasion, the Interim Chairperson of the Union of Journalists of South Sudan, Mr. Oliver Modi appealed to the judges to help in the protection of journalists through the application of media laws.
Oliver Modi asked the judiciary to recognize the media as the fourth arm of governance in the country.
“Media played a commendable role during and after the liberation struggle. I would like to register my appeal to the parliament to endorse the media as the fourth arm of the governance to accelerate development and nation-building,” he said.