Freedom of expression awareness to continue

By Anna Nimiriano

The Media Freedom Symposium which was conducted on 6th of September, 2019 at Regency Hotel has raised awareness to journalists in South Sudan. They were invited within Juba City and in ten States across the country. The number of participants who participated at the event was about one hundred and forty seven.

The idea of organizing the event came up when five members from South Sudan went to London to attend the global conference on Freedom of Expression, which was supported by UK and Canadian Embassies in South Sudan. During the symposium in Juba, most of the speeches and panel discussions highlighted situation of media and the challenges journalists are facing in South Sudan. It was said that, many journalists were arrested, tortured but their cases were not tried in the court to prove whether they were guilt or not. For that reason, it was impossible to keep records of those journalists.

Yet, one of the aims of the symposium was to know what is happening to journalists in the country. How should they get solutions to the problems facing them?  Based on experiences the participants got in London conference, there were many journalists suffering globally in media industry. Others have similar conditions like in South Sudan.

Therefore, civil society and judiciary were to be involved in following the cases of journalists, to defend them and get their rights so that journalists do their work free and ensure good working environment. Journalists were advised to participate in international fellowships which could help them to overcome some challenges facing them.

It was recommended that, perpetrators should be held accountable in any case of sexual harassment, threat and others. National plan of action for media in South Sudan should be developed to help the situation of media in the country.  Journalists should stand together and address issues facing them.  Awareness for journalists on freedom of expression should be increased through workshops and conferences. Center should be established for trauma healing in the country. Associations for media industry should follow up cases of arrested journalists and advocate for their rights. Participants also recommended that, next symposium should be organized for two days. Journalists should advocate for Freedom of expression. Safety of journalists should be promoted in the country especially for female journalists. There should be strong mechanism established to end impunity against journalists in the country. Security agents should be trained to understand the work of journalists.  Center should be established for training journalists to become professionals in South Sudan.

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