MEDIA LANDSCAPE

KEY HIGHLIGHTS ON MEDIA LANDSCAPE IN SOUTH SUDAN

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Welcome to AMDISS Newsletter,

The purpose of this newsletter is to give some insights on the current media environment in South Sudan to keep our citizens, media actors, stakeholders, and partners informed, engaged and active in the development in the sector. In this newsletter you will find both positive and negative cases for media development. These include media incidences and advocacy cases that, calls for action and more.  The newsletter will be published bi-monthly. Do you have tips or stories you want to share in this newsletter? Email us on info@amdiss.org

January 17th 2020: Arrest of a journalist Ijjo Bosco Modi

Media Network: Voice of Eastern Equatoria -Torit State

Mr. Ijjo Bosco Modi, Voice of Eastern Equatoria Radio Journalist. Photo credit: Google.
By Tapeng Michael Ohure

Case Details

On Friday 17th January 2020, Torit State journalist was arrested for allegedly disobeying orders from his supervisors to cover a news story according to the Eye Radio report. However, some media reports said, Ijjo Bosco was arrested by Torit State security operatives for airing out content about the United States of America or US sanction placed against the South Sudan’s former First Vice President Taban Deng Gai in the morning news bulletin.

The authorities in Torit however said that the journalist was locked behind bars for failing to report the news on the assembling of forces in Magwi County.

The Torit State Minister of Information, Magaret Idwa said, she considers the action by journalist Ijjo Bosco as insubordination.

‘’Our problem is why our local news was not announced? It is not the first time, he has been doing that many times and he had been warned many times.’’ She told Eye Radio on Sunday.

However, the Chairperson for the Association for Media Development in South Sudan or AMDISS, Mary Ajith urged the authorities to release Ijjo saying the matter is administrative and should be resolved without detaining the journalist.

He was released after a few days without charges after several calls by the media advocacy groups and civil society organizations in the country demanding his release.

According to reporters without Borders 2019 global press freedom index, ranked South Sudan number 139 out of 180 countries.

29th January 2020:

 Detention of Fr. Santino Lounoi Stephen

Media Network: Radio Emmanuel-Torit State

By Tapeng Michael Ohure

Case Details

On Wednesday 29th January 2020, the authorities in Torit State summoned a Catholic Radio in Torit for allegedly miss-informing the public that Torit State was recruiting people into the army. As a result, the Director for Radio Emmanuel, Father Santino Lounoi Stephen and the presenter who hosted the program that day were summoned. According to the state authorities, Radio Emmanuel announced in its morning news bulletin that recruitment was on-going across the state, something Fr. Lounoi denied.

In a telephone interview with AMDISS, Father Santino Lounoi denied any wrong doing, but said the presenter was hosting a program on the on-going peace process in the country, but by surprise one caller who wanted to join the national security service asked presenter Jacob Moyo where the training for national security was taking place in the country. So, this triggered their detention according to him.

‘’Presenter Jacob Moyo was hosting an Area Joint Military Ceasefire Committee member who was giving updates on the cantonment and the training processes across the state.’’ he added. However, they were released four hours later according to Fr. Santino.

The Executive Director for the Association for Media Development in South Sudan AMDISS, Michael Duku is urging all members of the media fraternity in South Sudan to adhere to the principles of ethical reporting.

The detention of Radio Emmanuel staff in late January followed the arrest of Ijjo Bosco of the Voice of Eastern Equatoria Radio.

1st Saturday, February 2020

Arrest of Isaac Van

Media Network: Maridi FM Radio 88.9

Mr. Isaac Van, Maridi FM Radio journalist, Photo credit: Google
By: Tapeng Michael Ohure

Case Details

On Saturday February 1st 2020, Security agents reportedly arrested  a journalist working for a local radio in Maridi State according to Eye Radio report dated Sunday 2nd February 2020.

Mr. Isaac Van works with Maridi FM 88.9 a local radio station operated by Maridi Service Agency.

In a statement, the Station Manager, Mr. Stephen Bakendo Isaac said journalist Isaac Van was picked by the National Security Officers from the studio during his sports show on Saturday morning.

According to Maridi security officers, Isaac Van communicated ‘’false information’’ about activities of local football association.

Mr. Bakendo had appealed to the National Media Authority in Juba to intervene and release the journalist.

AMDISS calls all the security organs in the country to channel all media related complaints to the Media Authority which is the right body to handle media issues.

In January, Maridi local football association suspended all football related-activities due to corruption allegations against the Secretary General of the association.

Saturday, 8th February 2020

Intimidation of Chol Duang

Media Network: South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC)

By Tapeng Michael Ohure

Case Details

On Saturday 8th February 2020, Chol Duang who works as a news anchor at the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC) was seen posting on his Facebook page about being intimidated by the soldiers who are guarding J1. He said he was ready to die for what he is doing and further referred to J1 as a place full of crooks. It remains unclear if he was arrested or not as AMDISS tried to inquire more about the incident, but it was not successful.

AMDISS warns all members of the society against the use of hate speech.

8th Saturday, February 2020

Inauguration of the first Radio station in Lainya county of Yei-River state

Media Network: Radio Gumbiri FM 102.6:  slogan ‘’the Voice of the people’’

By Tapeng Michael Ohure

Case Details

On Saturday 8th February 2020, a new radio station was opened in Lainya County by the Episcopal Church of South Sudan Central Equatoria Province named Radio Gumbiri with the slogan ‘’the voice of the people.’’

Speaking during the inauguration ceremony, the Commissioner of Lainya County, Stephen Degol Stewart said, the radio will promote civic education and peace in the area.

AMDISS applaud this positive media development and said this is a great achievement to the people of Lainya  in their quest for accessing relevant information for development in this transitional period to democracy.

12th Wednesday, February 2020

Arrest of 4 Radio Rumbek Journalists

Media Network: Radio Rumbek

By Tapeng Michael Ohure

Case Details

On Wednesday, 12th February 2020, four on duty Radio Rumbek journalists were reportedly briefly detained by the security agents for failing to join demonstrators in support of the former 32 states in Rumbek state.

According to Eye Radio report, the four journalists were rounded up by the National Security officers at their workplace-Radio Rumbek-run by the state government.

One of the briefly detained journalists, Mr. John Raaneban said, they were picked up from the office for failing to join demonstrators who marched to the United Nations field office in Rumbek to show support for now the defunct-32 states. He further said, Western Lake State government had earlier on announced that all government workers should turn up for the demonstration in support of the former 32 states.

However, after few days, President Salva Kiir, reverted the country to former 10 states with three administrative areas of Abyei, Greater Pibor and Ruweng respectively.

AMDISS urges authorities to respect rights and freedom for assembly as prescribed by law without prejudices

20th February 2020

Strike by Radio Emmanuel staff-Torit

Media Network: Radio Emmanuel –Torit

By Tapeng Michael Ohure

Case Details

On Thursday February 20th 2020, the staff of Radio Emmanuel of Torit state laid down their tools over low pay.

In a letter seen by AMDISS addressed to Bishop Stephen Ameyu Mulla of the Catholic Diocese of Torit, dated 20th February 2020, the Radio Emmanuel staff said they would not work until their demands are met. The staff complained that the Rate which the management pays monthly for them is not meeting their family demands. And as such, they needed a fair pay with the least getting at least $500.

In a statement from Mary Ajith, who is the Catholic Radio Network CRN Director in South Sudan said, she didn’t receive any official communication letter regarding the strike from Radio Emmanuel staff.

She however, acknowledged that, Radio Emmanuel staff had presented their complaints about the salary in a meeting she attended in Torit some time ago, but said, she hasn’t received any official letter of the strike from them yet.

AMDISS urges for amicable resolution of such disputes without denying citizens their rights to access information.

Final Remarks

Overall picture portrays South Sudan as a country with issues of impediments to freedom of expression and press, especially for journalists working for government owned media houses. Journalists profiled in this report and others continue to be exposed to physical threats, assault, intimidation and harassment. This leads to a climate of self-censorship and impunity.

South Sudan, remains one of the dangerous countries for journalists in the East African region.

Years of violent conflict between South Sudan government and the opposition rebel groups have left the country with a fragile state that cannot provide adequate security.

At least 7 journalists have been arrested in South Sudan between January and February 2020. Two in Torit state, one in Maridi State, and Four in Rumbek State, and all were released without court charges.

One case of harassment and threats by the military officers guarding J1 was also recorded over the weekend of Saturday 8th 2020 threatening to arrest the SSBC news anchor.

On a positive note, on Saturday February 8th 2020, Lainya County of Yei-River state inaugurated the first radio station named Radio Gumbiri FM 102.6.

AMDISS urged all levels of government authorities to respect freedom of expression and follow what the media law says in case of any wrong doing by media practitioners of the media houses.