PDM PRESS: Media Authority Suspends Al-Watan Newspaper Unlawfully

By Dr. Hakim Dario,

Chair, People’s Democratic Movement (PDM)

Press Statement for Immediate Release,

March 28th 2019

March 28th, 2019(Nyamilepedia) — The Media Authority was established in South Sudan by the Media Authority Act, 2013 which was passed without provisions for licensing the media in the country

PDM has learned with great dismay of the action by the Media Authority to suspend Al-Watan Newspaper, claiming that the newspaper had failed to fulfill its operating license terms! The requirement of licensing media outlets originated in the Sudan Press and Publications Act, 2004 which was superseded by the Media Authority Act 2013, Access to Information Act, 2013 and South Sudan Broadcasting Act, 2013.

PDM recalls that when the democratic media bills were tabled in the National Legislative Assembly and passed into Acts of Parliament in June, July and August 2013, none of the three Acts provided for licensing of the media and journalism in South Sudan. It was Michael Makuei Lueth who wanted to introduce licensing of media outlets and journalists in South Sudan, and AMDISS fought and advocated hard to defeat Makuei’s proposals for licensing the media.

It has now come into public knowledge that the Minister of Information & Broadcasting and President Salva Kiir Government’s spokesperson is the same individual who proposed media and journalists licensing in South Sudan. There is however no public evidence of the Media Authority Act, 2013 having undergone any amendments since it was passed in 2013.

The apparent introduction of media and journalists licensing by Minister Michael Makuei in South Sudan without Parliamentary oversight is grossly unlawful abuse of power, and constitutes a criminal liability in public office.

The only requirement of licensing in South Sudan applied only to Television and Radio broadcasting services, which depended on radio frequencies as a scarce resource. In order to operate, all other non-broadcast media outlets needed only to meet the requirement of registration as a business.

Minister Michael Makuei and Hon Deng Tiel, Chair of Parliamentary Legislation and Legal Committee at the time the Media Authority Act, 2013 was passed by the Parliament, would be held responsible and criminally liable for abuse of office to amend the provisions of the Media Authority Act 2013 to give it new interpretation and effect of licensing media outlets in South Sudan.

PDM has access to the text of the Media Authority Act, 2013, Access to Information Act, 2013, and South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation Act, 2013, copies of which were served to it by Hon Joy Kwaje MP when the media legislation bills were passed into Acts of Parliament.

The requirement imposed on the media outlets in South Sudan by the incumbent government to operate under annually renewable license is unlawful, and is non-complaint with the authentic Media Authority Act, 2013 as passed by the Parliament.

South Sudan is today run under the whim and dictatorship of the duo, President Salva Kiir and Michael Makuei Lueth, who continue to operate the National Congress’ Press and Publications 2004 Act in South Sudan to oppress the media and extinguish the democratic rights of our people.

President Salva Kiir’s dictatorship must end soon for the country to free itself from his tyranny, corruption and impunity. PDM calls on the masses of our people in Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr al Ghazal to join in NADAFA of our country from the tyranny of President Salva Kiir, President Michael Makeui and impunity of the Jieng Council of Elders.

For more information on this press statement, write to Dr. Dr. Hakim Dario, Chair of People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), at press@pdm-rss.org