Yes, there are gains, but more is needed to protect journalists
Every year on November 2, the world always marks the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. This UN-recognised day draws attention to the high rates of violent crimes against journalists and media professionals.
In an attempt to increase the conviction rate for crimes against journalists, every year, UNESCO Director-General requests member states to provide information on the status of judicial inquiries into the killings of journalists in their country. In South Sudan, at least 10 journalists have been killed since 2014, and according to the Reporters Without Borders (RSF), in multiple instances, the authorities have subjected journalists to harassment, arbitrary detention, surveillance and attacks.
Yesterday, hundreds of South Sudanese journalists gathered at the Juba Grant Hotel to commemorate the day. The day was marked by several calls on the authorities to end impunity and crimes against journalists. Despite the fact that there is no journalist currently under detention, no judicial action has been taken on all crimes committed against journalists including those 10 scribes who died in cold blood while on duty.
Many more journalists and media workers have continued to suffer from intimidation, threats, and violence from some individuals’ in public institutions who instead were supposed to protect the work of journalists.
The media often acts as the mirror of society and a milestone for democracy. But in any society where the media feels scared to speak out about corruption, political repression, or other violations of human rights, the citizens are equally affected. Lack of freedom of the press can as well affect the freedom of the citizens to express their voices.
There has never been a perfect profession, even doctors and pilots can commit mistakes while serving society but this looks so unique when it comes to journalism. Many people take it very seriously whenever a journalist or media house makes a mistake compared to the medical doctor or a pilot.
They often consider journalists as perfect as the angels which are impossible. Some of these errors normally come up due to too much interference into the work of the journalists by those who understand less or completely do not know how the media operate.
Nevertheless, in the last two years, threats and violence against journalists have reduced a bit compared to the period when the country was in the war.
Thanks to the administration of the Media Authority for hard work and we expect the situation to get better because South Sudan is still very low in the press freedom ranking. There is a need to improve the freedom of expression in the country because, without this freedom, the media cannot be able to play its role at the fourth estate.
The authorities especially law enforcement agencies to provide a safe working environment for the journalists to conduct their work without any interference.