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Gov’t, partners launches media code of conduct

By Bullen Bala Alexander

The government and its partners yesterday launched Code of Conduct for the practice of journalism in the country.

The code of conduct included Media Authority Internal Rules and Regulations, 2018, Regulations on Broadcast Media, 2018, Regulations on Print Media, 2018, Regulations on Accreditation of Journalists, 2018, and the Code of Conduct for the practice of Journalism, 2021.

Speaking during the launching ceremony, Baba Medan Konyi, the Deputy Minister of Information, Communication, Telcom and Postal Service (ICT&PS) appreciated effort by the partners for their unconditional support in making sure that the development of code of conduct for practice of journalism in the country became a reality.

“We in the Ministry of ICT&PS are willing to do our mandate so that we will be able to deliver services to the people of South Sudan in terms of information, communication and telecom,” Mr. Konyi said.

“We are here to launch the codes of conduct. It is an achievement of the media authority. We really appreciate the leadership of media authority and encourage them to continue with the spirit, we are ready to work together as the ministry,” he added.

He called on the journalists to follow the new code of conduct when informing the public to avoid misinformation which later would lead to the questions being asked.

He said the country belong to everyone including journalists adding that media was well placed to give good image of the country.

It was launched under the theme “Upheld Professional and Responsible Journalism in South Sudan.”

In his welcoming speech, the authority’s Managing Director, Elijah AlierKuai acknowledged the determination of journalists and media stakeholders to achieve vibrant and professional essential for good governance.

“On behalf of the Media Authority, it is a great honor to media fraternity for the officialinauguration of the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism,” he said.

“It was through individual and collective concerted efforts from journalists and media stakeholders to achieve vibrant and professional media essential for peace and good governance.”

Alier said the Code of Conduct for the practice of Journalism would enhance the standard of media in realization of the right of public to have access to information with a sense of humanity in all media reporting.

He added that the Public had the right to impartial, accurate and balance information from the media on issues related to political, social and economic development in the country.

“We have a duty of care and moral obligation to create and maintain conducive, regulatory environment to promote the development of independent and professionalmedia,” Mr. Alier stated.

Hereiterated the authority’s commitment against hate speech and cautioned media houses and journalists to desist from disseminating information believed to be potential for hatred, discrimination and using vulgar languages in public statements, political remarks, religious preaching, criticisms on social media, intrusion into one’s privacy, character assassination and stereotyping on ethnic basis for individual opinions.

In his part, Tap Raj Pant representative of UNESCO Country Director said having  journalists’ code of conduct in place would enhance self-regulation and the realization of professional journalists/media workers in the country.

“UNESCO would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Media Authority on the work accomplished to finalize the code of conduct for the practice of journalism in South Sudan,” Raj said.

“We believe that These would be guiding principles for the conduct of your work and a step for journalists to work towards having the trust of their readers and sources.”

He said as the specialized United Nations agency tasked with the promotion of freedom of expression under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UNESCO commended South Sudan for the steps so far taken to enshrine this important right in its legal frameworks.

He added that the rights on freedom of expression and access to information are well reflected in the Constitution under Articles 24 and 32, and further translated into some Statutes such as the Media Authority Act 2013, Right of Access to Information Act, 2013 and Broadcasting Cooperation 2013. They were noble steps towards working to a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media in South Sudan.

“While we promote a free and pluralistic media, we also advocate for the establishment of a robust self-regulation mechanism. Codes of ethics are an essential instrument of media self-regulation. They are a fundamental point of reference, guidingjournalists on their role, their rights and obligations and how they can best perform their job; all while representing a standard against which their work can be assessed,” he stated.

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He urges journalists to empower citizens and ensure engagement of communities in the development process.

“In the spirit of leaving no one behind, the media in South Sudan should break the jinx of being Juba centric. “I want to encourage media owners/ managers to use the existing communication channels at national and community levels, to use local languages, develop local content with the aim to guarantee that every citizen is reached and engaged through communication and the media.”

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