US calls for protection of journalists in South Sudan

U.S Ambassador to South Sudan, Larry E. André, Jr. | Source: U.S. embassy in South Sudan website.

The government of United States has called on South Sudan to protect journalists to promote transparency and democracy.

“The government needs to protect journalists and end the harassment, intimidation, and detainment of journalists.  The government should facilitate the work of journalism professionals, not censuring or restricting them.  Citizens should speak out at every opportunity to advocate for their constitutional right of access to information,” US ambassador to South Sudan, Larry E. André, Jr. said in a press statement on Monday.

May 3rd is the World Press Freedom Day, and the theme of this year is, “Information as a public good.”

Underscoring critical role press plays in educating masses, the US diplomat applauded journalists across the globe.

 “We honor journalists around the world for their work.  Journalists help ensure that citizens are informed and exposed to diverse perspectives on the issues. Well-informed citizens make countries stronger. When journalists are harassed and threatened, they naturally become intimidated and afraid to report certain information. They end up practicing self-censorship. Democracy suffers as a result, as citizens lack access to trustworthy information,” he said.

Reporters Without Borders 2021 World Press Freedom Index released last month shows that the east African country 139 out of 180 countries.  The report stated journalists have faced harassment, arbitrary detention, torture, and even death.

“If South Sudan aspires to achieve the status of a democratic country, then these abuses must stop,” the statement further reads. 

The diplomat urged journalists to follow the required professional standards in gathering, analyzing and passing information to the public.

“Journalists must adhere to the highest standards of conduct and ethics, which will help them gain important support from those around them,” he said.

Last week, Media Authority last released Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism in South Sudan under the theme “Uphold Professional and Responsible Journalism in South Sudan” in which it highlights journalist’s responsibility to verify information before passing it to the public.