Friday, February 15, 2013

South Sudan commits to freedom of journalists on radio day

13 February 2013 - As the world commemorated World Radio Day today, the South Sudanese government emphasized its commitment to protect freedom of expression and information.

“South Sudan will be known as a democratic country where … the fact that journalists will be free to seek information everywhere will be guaranteed by the law and by the Constitution,” said Minister of Information and Broadcasting Barnaba Marial Benjamin, speaking on UN Radio Miraya.

This week, South Sudan became the first country to commit to becoming one of five pilot countries that will adopt a new UN-backed initiative aimed at creating a free and safe environment for journalists and media workers.

“UNMISS welcomes the government’s decision to increase the safety of journalists in the country and address the issue of impunity,” said Special Representative of the Secretary General Hilde F. Johnson in a statement on 10 February.

UNMISS, the UN Education and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will work together with other UN agencies, national and international partners in supporting development of an implementation plan for the country, the statement said.

South Sudan dropped 12 places in a recent ranking and press index by Reporters without Borders, a ranking related partly to heavy handedness by security forces in dealing with journalists.

Mr. Benjamin, who also serves as government spokesperson, said his ministry had “taken it upon itself to assist in all cases where journalists get into clashes with some security agencies,” although media laws were not in place yet.

In his message to commemorate World Radio Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that radio, which the UN used to reach people worldwide, promoted democratic expression and influenced ideas.

Read More at UNMISS

(Source : United Nations Mission in South Sudan -UNMISS)

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