Tag : the-citizen
Tag : the-citizen
JUBA – A year since South Sudan gained its independence, journalists and rights activists still express concern about inadequate press freedom. An interview with one of South Sudan’s most outspoken independent journalists and publishers, Nhial Bol.
Q: Mr. Bol, recently Atem Yaak Atem, the Deputy Minister of Information and Broadcasting, said: “One of the important aspects of the struggle was to establish a better society where there is justice, equality and freedom of expression.” Has press freedom improved since independence?
A: If you have observed the cases of journalists who have been beaten, arrested, harassed and humiliated since independence, it is clear that we are heading for the worst. We cannot say that there is press freedom when we do not have a legal instrument or a law that regulates it.
Q: The South Sudanese Information Minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, described the media environment in South Sudan as “hostile and dangerous,” due to the absence of the legal framework you mentioned. The media bills have been passed by the National Council of Ministers and await legislation by the National Parliament. Why did the president order the withdrawal of the bills?
[Montréal, Québec, Canada 26°C] Media freedom since southern Sudan’s January referendum has been less than stellar. A few examples of the repression of press freedom since the referendum include:
1) The arrest of The Citizen newspaper, Editor-in_Chief, Nhial Bol for reporting about an attack on him and his driver; and the beating by security forces of one of the newspaper’s journalists for reporting about demolitions at Juba University.
2) The editor of the Juba Post was harassed and the newspaper was confiscated on March 31, 2011.
3) Bhagita Radio was threatened with closure by government officials.
4) Arabic newpapers, Al-Masir and Al-Istiqlal, both produced in the south but printed in the north were prohibited from being distributed in South Sudan.
5) U.N.-backed Miraya FM was warned by authorities to replace its staff or be shut down.
The media landscape in South Sudan is a complex one and Al Jazeera’s The Listening Post, which reports on media issues around the world, recently included a report on media freedom in the new Republic of South Sudan. The 25-minute episode begins with a report on journalist access into Syria. The situation for journalists in South Sudan follows (at 14:28).
At a gathering to mark World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, journalists in Southern Sudan stressed the importance of a free and independent media in a region that will become the world’s newest nation on 9 July.
Oliver Modi, chair of the Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS), emphasized the media’s critical role in disseminating information throughout the semi-autonomous region after more than two decades of civil war.
But he expressed deep concern over recent attacks on press freedom, including the confiscation of newspapers and recent arrests of reporters.
With senior officials from the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) in attendance, Modi recounted several incidents that had compromised media independence.
“This year, a journalist from The Citizen newspaper was beaten by security forces as he tried to report on a demolition at Juba University,” Modi said.
He also cited the arrest of Nhial Bol, the daily’s editor-in-chief, for writing about an attack on his driver and reporter.
Separately, the Juba Post‘s editor, Michael Korma, had come under harassment for publishing an article that the government deemed a threat to the country’s security. Editions of the Juba Post were seized by security officials before they could be distributed.
Elsewhere, Juba’s Bakhita Radio and Liberty FM were threatened with closure by Central Equatoria State security officials for reasons Modi called “dubious”.
The event was characterised by