A foot for thought

Journalists should speak out for their rights

Anna Nimiriano Editor in Chief Juba Monitor

United Nations  Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS} Human Rights  Department  organized a two days  roundtable to raise awareness on the right to freedom of expression and combatting hate speech through a joint dialogue between the Ministry of Information, Civil Society organizations and media representatives in the country.

The program started on Tuesday and ended yesterday.

During the discussions it was mentioned that journalists should make sure that they work under the safe environment where they were protected. Freedom of expression was not being applied as expected based on the way media houses were being treated. Journalists’stories were not being broadcasted and published based on reasons given by the authorities. It had become difficult to edit stories and balance in other circumstances for example speeches of big people in the government which had contributed to lack of smooth running of work.

Female journalists were not been given enough opportunity to participate in training abroad, in any opportunity that came in the media houses. They were being treated differently from their malecolleges.

It is advised that female journalists should speak out challenges facing them and work louder to be able to improve their standards and skills. It was also pointed out that some men were not encouraging their wives to work in the field of journalism; sometimes they stopped them from work. Women were not being promoted in the position of editors and Mangers, majority of them end working as reporters. That made representation of women poor in media industry.  Women are seen as if they are vulnerable with the way they are presented in public.

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Addition to that women stories in media houses are poor compared to men. Most of the stories on women are on challenges like abuses of women, rape cases and other negative things occurring to them. On the other hand, men’s stories are about good presentation, promotions and other good performances they were doing.

Since the outbreak of violence in South Sudan, human rights activists and journalists have called attention as to how hate speech had inflamed further violenced conflict. Traditional media such as newspapers, radio, and television as well as internet and social media have been under surveillance and restriction by authorities in the country. The civic space is shrinking, particularly in Juba. While generally the reporting of violence, the humanitarian crises and the coverage of the peace processes required objective and neutral reporting, there has been a growing concern about the role of the authorities to restrict the space for freedom of expression.

However, the roundtablediscussions have given opportunity to journalists to share challenges facing them and find best ways on how to overcome them.

  May God bless us all.

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