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Media Authority dismisses ‘fabricated’ UN report on media censorship

Author: Lasuba Memo | Published: Friday, October 13, 2023

Elijah Alier, the Managing Director of the Media Authority - Courtesy

The Media Authority has described the recent UN Commission on Human Rights report on the curtail of civic space and media freedom as baseless propaganda and total fabrication not confirming the real situation.

The response comes a week after the damning report.

The report titled “Entrenched Repression: The Systemic Curtailment of democratic and civic space in South Sudan”, released on 5 October, is based on the Commission’s independent investigations in 2023.

In the report, the Chair of the UN Rights Commission Yasmin Sooka stated that “Independent media and a vibrant civil society represent critical voices in developing accountable governance, and the democratic processes required to enable peace and ensure human rights.

She added that the Government instead treats journalists and civil society members who voice critique as enemies of the ruling political party, reflecting its extreme intolerance of all forms of public scrutiny and critical views.”

The report also detailed how the National Security Service (NSS) interferes heavily with media and the activities of civil society groups.

It said that independent online media are routinely targeted by cyberattacks and website blockages.

For his part, UN Commissioner of Human Rights for South Sudan Barney Afako urged the government to stop censoring the media and interfere with editorial choices that media houses make

He also said journalists should be free to plight their trade without having spurious requirements for registration, without odorous registration terms which will eliminate many credible practitioners. 

Reacting to the report, the Media Authority said “The report generally failed to provide facts in most of its findings.

The media regulatory body said the claims that the Commission consulted and interviewed Government representatives including the Media Authority or saw any of the agents of the Commission were false and concocted.

It says the report failed to reasonably present the understanding of the legal provisions and interpretations of the laws guiding the conduct and regulation of the media.

According to the Media Authority, the claims made are full of contradictions and ignorance of the media regulatory obligations and the rights of the media to operate within the legal framework

On the accreditation of journalists, it says “the Commission’s dejection of accreditation of Journalist in South Sudan is a clear manifestation of discrediting the standards of media, citing the United Nations Media Access Guidelines that makes it mandatory for journalists to present professional certificates and personal identification document at the UNHQ.

Underlying every stalemate of the report, it accuses the Commission of campaigning to promote lawlessness, and unethical dubious practices in the media system in South Sudan.

The Media Authority says, “The sentiments in this Commission’s report are baseless propaganda, a total fabrication of the general situation.”

It says the Commission on Human Rights report lacks the reliability of Sources, the validity of information, concrete evidence, consultations not genuine and did not give a chance for the right of reply to concerned entities such as the Media Authority.

The Media Authority further says “The report did not meet the required evidentiary standards and was influenced by one-sided sources and conflict of interest without cross-checking with the other parties.

In its last remarks, the Media regulatory body says it remains committed to promoting freedom of expression and pluralistic independent media in the public interest as protected under Articles 24 of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011, as amended.

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