The Press Censorship Impossed By The South Sudanese Government On The Media Houses Hamper Peace And Stability In The Country.

The Definition Of The Censorship And Its Application On The Media

By Tor Madira Machier ,

Opinion; updated at 6:20Am, Oct 6, 2014(EAT)

Two of South Sudan's media houses have been shutdown and editors report strict warnings from the government officials this week to suppress federalism debate(Photo: cropped by Nyamile)

Two of South Sudan’s media houses have been shutdown and editors report strict warnings from the government officials this week to suppress federalism debate(Photo: cropped by Nyamile)

Oct 2, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — Media censorship is the suppression of or proscription of speech or writing that is deemed obscene, indecent, or unduly controversial.

Although the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan is not effective, it guarantee the press’s independency from the state that mean the constitution does not justify any government interference towards the media,but today government insists that jounalists and their respective houses should take an aproval from the government first before broadcasting a news. What we have to know, we the South Sudanese people, is that journalists must perform their jobs as defined by their professionalities.

Early in April, the South Sudanese Minister of information Micheal Makuey Lueth warned the media when he was asked by the journalist about the recapture of the Unity State’s capital, Bentiu, by the opposition forces and the subsequent massacring of the IDPs in bor UNMISS camp by pro-government youths in which almost three hundred [300] IDPs were killed in the incident. The minister questioned why the journalists aired the news without confirming it first from “us”[The government]? Makuei went ahead to threaten that “any body who goes astray will not be tolerated”, a statement that would be less expected from a minister, who supposedly qualified as a lawyer by professional.

These warnings, couple with arrests and the current media crack downs, which are becoming normal trends in the country today, make people less confidence in the government.

The closure of the Bakhita Radio and the warning issued by the deputy governor of western Bahr Al Ghazal State, threatening to close down the same Catholic owned radio station in Wau, are perspectives that also suggest to the people that the government’s stance on the peace is not realistic.

In reality, not all the government censorship is unlawful. For example, we still have laws against obscenity in art and entertainment and these laws allow the government to punish people for producing or disseminating material about illicit sex, pornography or any kind of norm that threatens certain life styles which may affect the life of the society; for instance [and depending on jurisdictions] the gay marriage which is against the constitution in many African nations.  This happens if a judge or a jury proves beyond reasonable doubt that the material is sufficiently offensive and lacks any significant value.

Therefore it is the judge, and not the government itself, to decide weather it is against the law because judiciary is independent from the country’s governing body. This hardly applies here in our Democratic Republic of South Sudan. The minister can wake up any time of the day and pass a law, not a bill, as she feels necessary!

Where democratic values holds, not all forms of civil censorship toward specific individuals, companies or government institutions are illegal.

When private individuals agitate to eliminate TV programs they dislike, or threaten to boycott the companies that support these programs and or threaten to protest a certain government decision or resolution which may result to civil disobedient and causes unrest in the country, it does not mean that they are against the law but they are certainly trying to censor artistic expression and interfere with the free speech of others. But their actions are perfectly legal; in fact, their protests are protected by the right to freedom of speech and expression and the rights of stagging peacefull protests.

Therefore, any attempts to regulate or censor often risk obstructing the free speech, rights of journalists, playwrights, screenwriters, filmmakers, performers, and distributors.

Its Negative Effects In Respect To Peace And Stability And The Current Conflict As Well

The current conflict which has dragged the nation into nightmare of chaos and bloodshed in the country needs to be understood by all the people women,men, children, seniors, and the ordinary citizen as well.

People needs to have access to views of all the warring parties whether the government or the SPLM/A and chose what satisfy their need in respect to peace and reconciliation as well and to understand the root causes of the current conflict.

If people have to be allowed only to access government’s view, then such policy must embodies dangerous and harmful effects on the people. In most cases, the government will only preach its policies, in case the government is functioning or propaganda that are harmful to the citizens. For example the government want the media houses to preach to a fictitious, government manufactured, coup and defamations to justify human right violations, massacres and silencing of the opposition in the recent conflict, an attempt that lacks recognition from the international community.

This would have been very unfortunate if the international community supported the coup narratives because the people and the ruling party, SPLM, know very well that the genesis of the conflict was an attempt by the president, General Salva Kiir Mayardit, to purge his political opponents within the governing party to secure a re-election in 2015. This has resulted to subsequent killing of over 21 thousands ethnic Nuer population across the country. The government has directly or indirectly involved in targeted killing of families, children, elderly and unarmed men in the capitals Juba, Bor and Mapel.

In sum, the views of the SPLM/A (IO) and other parties in the conflict must be accessible to the civil population and this will be in the interest of peace and stability in South Sudan. At this point the inaccessibility of the views of the SPLM [in Opposition] will make the civil population uninformed and need to be informed because they have to chose what favor them.

If the government still spread their lies about the false coup claim, the SPLM will feel no need to compromise to any of the outstanding issues, even at a point that would favor the government, if the claim of this controversial coup continues.

So if a lasting peace in South Sudan is to be achieved, media censorship is to be lifted and the civil population must be allowed to access information.

Tor Madira Machier is a South Sudanese student pursuing Law degree at the University of Ain Shams in Cairo, Egypt, He can be reached @ tormadira2013@gmail.com or +201024930577

2 comments

  • The Government of Kiir is a government for self interest for some individual who are enjoying their corrupted money of the oil of south Sudan,and that is why they are making delaying tactic in the peace process buying time,The President is making some empty promises to other presidents for support to the IGAD mediators to support his failed government to still be leading the country,by telling neighboring president to provide them with some squired kilometer of land along the boarder of Uganda and south Sudan,that is why those others president is standing behind Kiir without knowing that they will create tension among those community living in those areas,like what had just happened between Kajukaju people and Native of Moyo which made incant people lost their lives on some people expenses

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