South Sudan joins Press Freedom Day International CelebrationMay 4, 2016
On Tuesday, the world marked Press Freedom Day, and South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, which recently has got a new government, joined the celebration under the theme “Access to information and fundamental freedoms” with calls to protect journalists.
The event held at Nyakuron Cultural Center was organized by the United Nation Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in partnership with INTERNEWS and presided over by the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General United Nations (UN) Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Eugene Owusu, together with the UNESCO Representative to South Sudan, Mr. Salah Khaled, and the Chairperson of the Union of Journalists, Mr. Oliver Modi Philip.
“Press freedom is a shared value amongst the community of nations, of which South Sudan is an important member. And for South Sudan, its government and people, the opportunity to optimize the fruits of this country’s hard won independence will not be fully achieved, if liberty and freedom do not also extend to the media”, declared the Secretary General UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Eugene Owusu.
“Peace in South Sudan depends on the media landscape in the country and the journalists’ freedom to share truthful information about what is happening in the territory. Press freedom and access to media also come with a lot of responsibility so I appeal to the youth to act with respect and tolerance in internet, especially in social media”, said UNESCO Representative to South Sudan, Mr. Salah Khaled.
“Without the media, we cannot exercise and really get the good result of our freedom that we have be heard in the world”, affirmed the Union of Journalists’ Chairperson, Mr. Oliver Modi Philip.
South Sudan has dropped 15 places in the latest World Press Freedom index. The annual ranking done by Reporters without Borders places South Sudan at 140, out of 180 countries ranked. The 2015 ranking placed South Sudan at 125 among 179 countries. The latest report says the already fragile situation of journalists in the country has been worsened by the civil war.
During the event, a group of actors performed a drama, which emphasized the lack of information in the country.
Internews Chief of Party, Deborah Ensor and USAID Mission Director, Teresa McGhie, also expressed the importance of Press Freedom in South Sudan.
“South Sudan experiences information poverty. Only a very few South Sudanese have regular access to TV, radio, mobiles, newspapers, or the internet. Yet, a majority believe that information can reduce conflict”, said INTERNEWS Chief of Party.
“The peace agreement is an opportunity to stop the pressure against journalists in South Sudan. You were fighting not only for independency but also for freedom and that is what all South Sudanese should get”, confirmed USAID Mission Director, Teresa McGhie.
The event concluded with an award ceremony torecognize outstanding South Sudanese media practitioners who stood firm to advance media freedom, freedom of expression and safety of journalists despite hard media working conditions in South Sudan.