Journalists in Rumbek decry restrictions on freedom of expression
Lakes States journalists in a consultative meeting organized by UNMISS Human Rights Division on Thursday denounced unnecessary restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression.
Addressing the participants, the Human Rights Division team leader Mr. John Oziegbe said that freedom of expression, as enshrined in South Sudan’s legal framework, underpins democracy and encourages public participation in decision-making.
“Freedom of expression is a right that belongs to everyone. Without free access to information and ideas, and the right to express one’s own views freely, citizens cannot even vote properly, let alone take part in ongoing public decision-making that affects their lives,” Mr. Oziegbe stressed.
A journalist who identified himself as Peter Macuei called on the government to apprehend those who perpetrate attacks on media practitioners in the country.
“Attacks on and harassment of journalists and other workers in the media industry pose a very significant threat to the freedom of opinion and expression and the free flow of information to the public. Complicity by the government and public officials in these violations is a gross abuse of power,” Macuei stated.
Sussan Anyuat cautioned her fellow journalists to be careful to avoid letting politicians use media houses to pass messages that could be considered hate speech.
“Incitement and hatred against specific groups, and the actions that flow from politicians are tearing our country apart. Let them (politicians) use our media houses to mend the social fabric but not to divide us further. Let’s remind them about the national dialogue announced by our president,” Anyuat advised.
The one-day consultative meeting was attended by 23 journalists and representatives of civil society organizations based in Rumbek.