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The Global Media Freedom Conference (GMFC) calls for free media

By Oliver Modi

The recent Global Media Freedom Conference held in London-UK ended with calls for global free media

The two days conference that was held on 10th to 11th July, 2019 was attended by more than one thousand participants including journalists, editors, managers, and government dignitaries and media partners cross the global.

South Sudan was represented by a team that include the Managing Director of Media Authority Alijah Aliar, Interim Chairperson of the Union of Journalists of South Sudan Oliver Modi, Chairperson of the Association of Media Development in South Sudan Mary Ajith, Editor in Chief of Juba Monitor Newspaper Ann Namiriano and Executive Director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization Edmond Yakani.

“The GMFC was organised by UK in conjunction with the Canadian government and launched as part of the international campaign intended to respond to the UN Secretary General call to protect journalists and media workers, and to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators attacks on them” Said the Coordinateur Mondiale Pour & Inclusion, UK Foreign and Common Wealth Office Alistair King-Smith.

 

The Directtrice Generale, Bureau des Human Rights, Freedom Global Affairs Canada Shelley Whiting said the Global media Freedom Campaign aims to shine a spotlight on media freedom everywhere, increasing the cost to those violating it.

He said the campaign aims at improving safety of journalists and media workers and their ability to work without interference, reducing attacks on journalists and easing states restrictions on freedom of media and expression.

The various panel discussions realized  that in the recent three years, media has become less free with many threats to journalists and media outlets globally which include psychological pleasure such as threats to their lives and those of their families, murder, unlawful detentions, arbitrary raids on editorials offices and journalists homes; destruction of private and professional property, online harassments and threats including sexual violence, especially against female journalists and bloggers.

Such environment has resulted to frequent global incidents with at least 99 journalists and media workers were killed, over 300 were in detention, and 60 were held hostages according to 2018 reports from the UN and Press Freedom Organizations.

The panels also realised that there was a new trend in many governments around the world using the law by subjecting journalists to criminal offence than civil offence. Such laws have contrary acted against journalists’ rights to access and publish information feely. These laws also have interfered with the media freedom.

The panel discussions discovered that the widespread use of digital technologies has brought distortions of print and electronic media into the online media. This distortion affected the journalists directly or indirectly since the information disseminated in the social media can’t be verified and whether they are written by journalists or by non-unprofessional journalist. The question still remains how the media sectors can ensure professionalism responsively.

The panels also found that governments have a big responsibility to end all the threats against journalists through establishment of a functional judiciary that will enforce the rule of law. These governments should also ensure that citizens understand and respect the laws so that media will have a free space to function. The panel discussions emphasized on the timely prosecution and punishment of those found responsible of crimes against journalists.

On the other hand, the media should have a road map to enable them have a clear direction. The establishment of off-line and on-line should be clearly define and protected by all governments in order to allow effective flow of information.

It was also suggested that the states and media should clearly define their sustainable media economic development strategies to advance stability of the media.

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