Home | News    Tuesday 28 May 2013

South Sudanese media forced into self-regulation by security services

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May 27, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudanese media organisations are no longer covering stories critical of the government, specifically those relating to the security services and corruption, reporters and journalists say.

South Sudanese men read newspapers in Juba on 10 July 2011, the day after independence from Sudan (Source: Phil Moore / AFP)

The security services "come to us and started asking why we published this and that article," a senior reporter with Al-Masir an Arabic newspaper in Juba told Sudan Tribune on Monday.

"They do not want us to publish anything about [rebel leader] David Yauyau. They want nothing about soldiers [from the South Sudanese army] who ran away from [fighting Yauyau] in Jonglei because of hunger and lack of payment. They only want their side of the story in Jonglei to be only the one reported by all the media. This is the situation in which we are operating”, the reporter, who did not wanted to be identified said.

Security operatives are closing monitoring the media’s reporting of political activities critical of president Kiir’s recent decision to removed powers he delegated to his vice president Riek Machar.

"They are also coming and telling us not to cover any political engagement of vice president, especially those related to some of the powers which the president had withdrawn from him", the Al Masir reporter said.

The security services "have pushed us to exercise self-regulation because most of our reporters fear being arrested because they have families for whom they are responsible and you know it takes time for someone to be released or taken to court. They just keep [journalists] in their cells even when there is no grounds", he explained.

Another journalist with The Citizen, a daily English newspaper said the that his publication as well as Sudan Tribune were recently excluded from attending the recent Greater Bahr el Ghazal regional conference in Wau.

Sudan Tribune journalist Ngor Garang was initially invited to the conference but decided not to attend after hearing that many politicians and officials attending objected to his presence and wanted to bar him from attending due to the website’s coverage of internal politics within the ruling SPLM.

Garang said Monday that he understood that some people were concerned that he would expose "secretive deliberations" behind the scenes at the conference.

Instead of travelling to Wau Garang says he decided to cover the event from Juba by speaking to participants after each session.

The US Ambassador to Juba, Susan D. Page has expressed deep concerned about media freedom in South Sudan.

This follows the letter written by the Executive Director for Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Joel Simon, to the South Sudanese president and copied to Ambassador Page among other diplomats about the issue of media freedom in the country.

The CPJ letter expressed deep concern about the deteriorating state of press freedom in the country.

“In the past six months, CPJ has documented several cases of attacks, intimidation, and detention of journalists by security agents in South Sudan and we are concerned that this harassment has led to self-censorship and even exile among the local press corps,” the CPJ letter partly reads.

"We urge you [President Kiir] to use the power of your office to ensure that journalists are allowed to work freely without harassment and censure from state security officials."

CPJ said it has documented at least 12 cases of attacks, harassment, and detention of journalists in South Sudan in the last six months.

In line with the CPJ letter, Page said: “We are very concerned about press freedoms and other freedoms. We believe it is an obligation for the government to uphold what the government says it values.”

Ambassador Page said intimidation of journalists is continuing and that freedoms that are enshrined in the transitional constitution of South Sudan should be followed.

According to the letter, security officials are the perpetrators of the deteriorating journalism environment in South Sudan.

CPJ says the harassment of journalists is a violation of Article 24 of South Sudan’s transitional constitution, which stipulates that "all levels of government shall guarantee the freedom of the press."

The letter urged the president to ensure that security agents who continue to intimidate and censor the South Sudanese press face the consequences including criminal prosecution.

“Such a firm response to these violations will restore confidence among the local media and ensure that the freedoms for which your government fought will be upheld,” the letter added.

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 28 May 2013 05:42, by parajok

    We groomed our dictator and now he will show to the country who ever disagree with him will be out of country like Dr. Lam or face persecution. Nhialic will get rid of him like his former boss.

    • 28 May 2013 06:00, by Dinkawarrior

      It’s always good to criticise any misbehavior but we have to know the true. Some of the media are working beside the enemies. Therefore, the South Sudan Security have to take an action.

      • 28 May 2013 06:48, by Mi diit

        Journalists should not sit back and complain. They need freedom in this country. If Kiir’s government works against journalists, then it is the duty of all journalists to fight back. Expose this dictator president to the whole world. And let every body work to remove him, only then our country will see the fruits of our struggle.

        • 28 May 2013 06:51, by Mi diit

          Journalist Ngor Garang, you are doing a great job man. This primitive security people are not doing their work. People are being killed always with no effort to identify and arrest the killers. Political debates are public matters to report. And even the US media reported army setbacks in Iraq. This primitive security people should know that.

          • 28 May 2013 07:41, by Mi diit

            Imagine I am told by a reliable source in Juba that the so called security personnel love to proudly declare their identities in bars. Their head office also asks all major hotels in Juba to at least accommodate one of them to monitor activities in hotels. How can they succeed when their identities are known? Their job is to eat and loot the country and not to protect its citizens.

      • 28 May 2013 13:32, by Tura Acuse

        @ Dinkawarrior, in every where, country you will go, you see there are oppositions party and they much than what we do here. what happen between Riek and kiir its eternal issue (SPLM) alone. If you are agreeing with him (Kiir) than Kiir will be not honored after he be chase shamelessly.

    • 28 May 2013 07:19, by George Bol

      Parajok,
      Get the hell out my witchcraft of ngundeng.

    • 28 May 2013 08:44, by Salammabaad

      @Pajok,
      So the untimely death of his former boss is/was in your interest?

  • 28 May 2013 08:05, by Joseph Canada

    The nation is heading to a military rule state. Venezuela is coming to south Sudan. Its the ticking time bomb!! We might not get to Election without disruption so that those who oppress through lie can continue to lead and still. Its called Control Rule and Robb technique. South Sudan Oyee!!

  • 28 May 2013 12:46, by Dau-network

    Many journalists don’t know what to be reported and what not to be reported, because in every country have limitations of airing out nonsense especially anything concerning security. For example , death of Osama B was not reported accordingly and so many case for sake of country’s image.
    In western world journalists are not allowed when it’s security issues.



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