JHR and Media Authority concludes the first national media symposium in South Sudan

By Alpha Kamara

Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) in collaboration with South Sudan’s Media Authority has concluded the first national media symposium in the country. The symposium brought together over one hundred government officials from all thirty two states of the country including the disputed border of Abyei between Sudan and South Sudan.

The officials includes state ministers of information, director generals and secretaries of the various states.

Under the theme ‘’Strengthening the media in South Sudan towards a professional, vibrant and free media for all’’ the symposium organized for the first time in the young country facilitated an open discussion between media practitioners and the government officials on how the two can work together to promote open and free flow of information in line with the country’s media and professional ethics.

The guest of honor South Sudan’s Minister of Information and Communication Michael Makuei says the government is ready to open the media landscape for effective information flow in the country. But the Minister said journalists should respect and recognized the laws and traditions of the country.

‘’I am imploring you all to talk the language of peace. Please avoid reporting hate speech’’ Minister Makuei cautioned.

Media Authority Managing Director Elijah Alier says it’s against the law for state ministers or government officials to harass, arrest or molest journalists doing their job legally after being accredited.

‘’It’s the role of the media authority to accredit journalists and regulate their affairs. If you see them in your state with an accreditation from us, don’t disturb them. Even If they don’t have accreditation, please refer them to us. But it is not your job to harass or stop them from doing their job’’ Allier added.

JHR Team Leader in South Sudan Laura Bain sitting with all state Ministers and other officials after the symposium.

Canadian Embassy representative Catherine Palmier said a strong media is essential for effective governance. ‘’South Sudan journalists have a critical role to play to capture voices of the vulnerable especially women and children. Canada is therefore proud to continue supporting JHR to help in developing the media landscape in this country’’ Palmier added.

JHR’s Team Leader in South Sudan Laura Bain said the symposium is an open forum to allow the media interface with government officials to understand the roles of each other for the good of the country. She says despite some challenges, there has been a lot of improvement in the media landscape in South Sudan.

‘’The collaboration between JHR and the Media Authority has been excellent. This has led to the training of more media houses and partners. We hope this collaboration will continue especially now that the peace process is ongoing’’ Laura Bain added.

The symposium was climaxed with the signing of a commitment letter between JHR and the Media Authority towards the establishment of a media that is professional, vibrant and free for all.

Please go to the JHR Twitter moment on the media symposium for all the key highlights. The hashtag is #JHRmediasymposiumSS