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Rights groups decry media restrictions

Author : | Published: Friday, August 1, 2014

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have released a report detailing abuses against the media by the South Sudanese government.

They are calling for the National Security Service in the country to stop seizing and shutting down newspapers as well as harassing, intimidating, and unlawfully detaining journalists.

The report documents unlawful restrictions on the media in South Sudan since December 2013.

They claim that the clampdown by the government of South Sudan on the press has prevented national discussions about lasting solutions to the political crisis and internal armed conflict.

But Government Spokesperson Michael Makuei denied the content of the report.

“I think our journalists are the only people enjoying full rights here [in the] region,” Michael Makuei told Eye Radio.

“Here in South Sudan, we have given freedom to the journalists except on issues to do on national Security, which is the security of the nation and his people,” the minister said.

“In which part in the world are the journalists supposed to report on whatever to do with the security of the nation?”

In terms of print media, over the past seven months, the government has held issues of Juba Monitor newspaper eight times, and in June, an entire run of the Citizen was seized.

The Almajhar Alsayasy newspaper was given explicit instructions to cease publication. The government has also stopped broadcast interviews with the SPLMS/SPLA in Opposition figures.

Mr Makuei insists the government is granting enough rights to journalists. He said the government only shut a newspaper that it considers to be owned by the SPLM in Opposition.

The report recommends that the South Sudan Human Rights Commission should monitor illegal restrictions on freedom of expression, and should report on the issue regularly and publicly.

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