SSHURSA CONDEMNS SHUTDOWN OF MEDIA OUTLETS, URGES SECURITY TO RESPECT THE LAW AND CALLS FOR REOPENING OF THE CLOSED MEDIA INSTITUTIONS

SSHURSA
August 6, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — The South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy (SSHURSA) condemns in strongest terms possible the shutdown of The Citizen Newspaper and Free Voice Radio by the security agents of the government of South Sudan. The media outlets were shut down on 5 August 2015 in Juba, South Sudan.

The shutdown was allegedly occasioned by the coverage of views of the South Sudan’s political opposition parties and an editorial that supports peace proposal by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which was published by The Citizen newspaper.

Closing down media outlets is violation of press freedom, speech and expression, all of which are adored norms and values of normal society which a responsible government and its security institutions ought to respect and promote. This appears to be the contrary in South Sudan.

Strong press is one of the pillars of rule of law abiding government. The government’s agents willfully intimidating, harassing and closing down outspoken media institutions, is a misguided conception of protecting national interests. SSHURSA condemns such act as an open display of dictatorship and fear for the public scrutiny relevant for building rule of law, democracy and good governance.

The government of South Sudan through its security agents has been violating the media freedom in total disregard of article 24 of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011 that provides for freedom of expression and the media. This constitutional provision obliges all levels of government to guarantee such values of free press and speech which are important for growth of healthy democracy.

APPEALS:

TO THE “GOVERNMENT” OF SOUTH SUDAN:

(i) reinstate with immediate effect the operations of The Citizen English daily and Free Voice.

(ii) adhere to national and international obligations in observing freedom of press and expression as enshrined in the Constitution and other international human rights instruments to which South Sudan is a party by virtue of its United Nations membership.

(iii) reign over errand security agents to stop harassing the media by bringing to justice those security agents found to be independently acting in violation of freedom of press and
expression.

TO THE SOUTH SUDANESE MEDIA INSTITUTIONS AND JOURNALISTS:

(i) remain strong and independent in serving the public regardless of numerous intimidation and harassment by the security agents.

(ii) use legal means by suing before the courts of law, the government whose agents willfully violate your rights which are provided for under the Transitional Constitution, which is above all laws including the purported National Security law.

SSHURSA also calls upon United Nations and international human rights groups to continue standing with South Sudanese media, to strongly hold accountable the South Sudanese government to respect its international obligations, one of which is a free press.

CONTINUED PAST VIOLATIONS BY SECURITY AGENTS:

The crackdown on media, freedom of speech and expression by security agents of the government of South Sudan is not new. Since after the independence of South Sudan, the security agents of the government continue to abuse these constitutional values.

In November 2011, two editors working with Destiny Newspaper were detained in Juba for weeks, tortured and later discharged without trial. They were accused of an article one of them wrote, which was critical on the marriage of President Salva Kiir’s daughter by an Ethiopian national. Many journalists including Bakhita Radio and other Catholic Radio networks in Juba, Rumbek and other places have always been intimidated and detained.

The Citizen, Juba Monitor, Sudan Tribune and other media outlets have also in the continued to suffer serious intimidation and harassment directly by the government ministers. Political opposition figures and individual freelance writers continue to be also harassed in South Sudan.

The recent shutdown of the Nation Mirror newspaper and now that of The Citizen and Free Voice, are only continued demonstration of institutionalised abuse of the freedom of the media, speech and expression.

The security agents and some institutions of the government have also been disallowing debates on national issues which matter in the lives of the citizens. Recently, youth members who demonstrated in Warrap state against the imposition of the state governor were arrested.

Similar instances continue to dominate news in Lakes, Northern Bahr El Ghazal and Western Bahr el Ghazal states. In 2014, women who peacefully demonstrated in Bor town, Jonglei state, were arrested arbitrarily but the state government.

In capital Juba, numerous shutdown of media houses and arrests of journalists continue unabated. All these examples are in total denial of the public right to information and of the free exercise of the citizens’ democratic right of speech. This state of affairs must completely stop if South Sudan has anything to claim of the values which its people sacrificed millions of lives for.

About this press release and SSHURSA:

contact Executive Director Biel Boutros Biel, Tel. +256 772 369 971 or E-mail: bielbb2015@gmail.com. Kampala, Uganda.


SSHURSA is a non political and nonprofit making national human rights organisation with a vision for democratic, human rights and rule of law abiding South Sudan. Its mission is to monitor human rights and train general public on rule of law, human rights and governance. E-mail: sshursa2007@gmail.com or visit: www.sshursa.org