AMDISSS aware journalists on Media Laws

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[Yei South Sudan, TCT] The Association of Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) is holding several awareness workshops across states of South Sudan on the recently signed South Sudan media laws and professional code of conduct and ethics of journalists.

AMDISS advocacy has been pivotal in the passing of media bills by the parliament signed by President Salva Kiir in 2013. The organization has since continued to enlighten journalists and media houses on the media laws.

South Sudan’s government has shut down a number of media houses in the country and many have already suffered repeated threats of shut down creating insecure space for journalists and media houses to operate. 

The government earlier this year shut down Media houses like The Citizen and Nation Mirror newspapers and Free Voice media organization. Meanwhile Radio Bakhita in the capital Juba reopened after it was also shut down several times, after the government accused it of broadcasting views of rebels.

From October 15 to 17 this year, approximately 23 journalists from different media houses in Yei, Lainya, Morobo and Kajokeji counties of Central Equatoria States (CES) were the last of the seven relatively peaceful states that attended the first awareness on the media laws president Salva Kiir signed into laws on December 9, 2013 which came into effect in 2014.

The three South Sudan Media laws 2013 include the Access to Information Act, Media Authority Act and Broadcasting and Corporation Act.

Alfred Taban, the chairperson of AMDISS who is also editor-in-chief of the Juba Monitor Newspaper, said the amendments on some provisions in the pre-existing laws would continue through the parliament. The killing of eight different journalists in South Sudan before and after the outbreak of the December 2013 violence and intimidations has left many local journalists in fear. Some may choose different professions rather than continuing to report on sensitive stories.  

Radio Morobo FM chief editor, Christine Wani, said the training has restored her morale in the profession following times of dark stay over the ‘rampant killing’ of her fellow journalists in the country. “I’m a journalist, but started losing morale because of the rampant killing of journalists and many issues concerning journalists and their areas of work,” Christine told The Christian Times after the training in Yei on Saturday.

“And I think this training really came timely to strengthen us. It has strengthened me personally in my area of work and professionalism. We will strive to always seek the truth, be fair, accurate and balanced in our reporting and as long we do what is right for the citizens of South Sudan”, she added.

Christine stressed the need for media development partners to organize more trainings that involve security personnel and top government officials to understand the roles of journalists and allow a free and fair atmosphere for the press.

For his part, Binya Chaplain, a journalist of Grace 95.1 FM in Kajokeji County, said that knowing the content of professional code of conduct and ethics of journalists and the media laws are key for journalists to avoid security threats attributed to misreporting of issues.  

“Since he is trained, he will be following the legal procedure and he will not be getting into committing of some crimes that will take him to the national security. And we hope the national security will understand that really these (journalists) people are doing something great”, he said.

Another Journalist, ILynezkia Tony, explains how he had almost left the journalism profession. “I was very scared when I heard of the killings against my fellow colleagues, even my other colleagues told me, Tony, you are just like joining the terrible profession. But it was not for my personal interest because it is what I want to do for the best of my people. So I am really strengthened today”.

Meanwhile, Alfred, a veteran South Sudanese journalist called on the security personnel and the government to study the laws carefully and bestow respect to journalists in their profession, adding that a dialogue between media houses and security personal is continuing.“These journalists are not your enemies. They are doing the same work as you are, for this nation. These laws contain what is permitted and what is not permitted in the business so you should study these laws carefully”.

Similar trainings in the remaining three states of Unity, Jongeli and Upper Nile states will be conducted if security situation improves and peace returns, Alfred said.  

According to Union of Journalists in South Sudan, about eight South Sudanese journalists have been killed in the country between 2013 and 2015.

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