Yei Journalists trained on hate speech mitigation
Participants in a presentation session (photo by Daniel Friday Martin)
By Daniel Friday Martin
Journalists drawn from various radios, electronic and print media houses in Yei River State have been equipped with new skills on the role of media in promoting peace, reconciliation and mitigating hate speech across the online and off line social media plat forms.
The first ever workshop under the ‘Match for Peace’ project was organized and funded by Community Development Centre-Africa (CDC) aimed at instilling skills and knowledge to media practitioners on how to educate the public on responsive use of social media platforms.
The training was also aimed at sharing accurate information so as to promote peaceful co-existence and reconciliation among the communities within the country and in the neighboring countries.
CDC’s executive director Martin Sebit told Juba Monitor that hate speech has directly or indirectly incited the violence in Yei River State.
He said since the onset of the crisis in the area, thousands of photos or images and distorted messages circulated on social media platforms fuelled the conflict in the area.
Sebit added that the workshop will help journalists to accelerate actions to counter and combat online hate speech and during public speeches.
“The urgency to educate South Sudanese about hate speech and what differentiates it from freedom of speech is now so as to pave the way for a more shade, conscious and attentive use of language in the streets, media, and social media platforms,” he said.
He said the participants will be able to reverse the trend of hate speech and strengthen a culture of peace, reconciliation, harmony and social cohesion to foster tolerance, empathy, and mutual respect.
The participants identified the wave of violence coupled with the worsening economic situation as some of the main triggers of hate speech in Yei River State.
“In our daily interactions with the public, we discovered that the current political- economic challenges; tribalism, illiteracy, power struggle, revenge, poor governance restriction of freedom of speech and continuous human rights violations as main reasons for rising hate speech in the communities,” the group said.
The participants jointly recommended that to end hate speech and promote reconciliation, South Sudanese leaders and the citizens needed massive civic education on the importance of “public peace-reconciliation-communication skills” so as to foster healing and togetherness.
The group also suggested that policy makers and parliamentarians should develop mechanisms to legislate laws that controls, prohibits and punishes hate speakers in the state.
Speaking on behalf of the participants, King Martin Omalla of Liberty FM thanked the organizers of training and appealed for more training for journalists on the area of peace building.
He urged the Government to grant free space for media practitioners to exercise their roles and responsibilities without fear of intimidation, arrest and detention adding that media plays an in important role in shaping societies.
Daniel Woli Comboni the Acting Director-General in the State Ministry of Information and Communication called on the media practitioners in the state to stick to their profession by reporting accurate and balanced news to the public.
“I am very happy with such workshops, our media workers needed such positive skills so that they help to inform the public with correct messages that promotes peaceful co-existence instead of hatred and violence that divides communities” he ended.