Home | News    Friday 14 December 2012

South Sudan parliament debates media laws


December 13, 2012 (JUBA) - South Sudan lawmakers on Wednesday started deliberations on draft legislation to regulate the young nation’s media industry.

The bills were presented for the first reading by the specialise committee on information, culture and communications, a month after public hearings were conducted by various media groups.

South Sudan’s parliament appears to be divided on the future of the press but some influential members of the house have pledged to ensure the bills will be subjected to thorough parliamentary debate before they are passed into law.

Mel Wal Achien, a member of parliament from Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, said the bills are very important because they will guarantee independence of the “watchdog”.

South Sudan’s press and civil rights activists, as well as politicians and victims of press intrusion, have been calling for the government to introduce media laws since 2005 when a peace ended decades of civil war and brought former rebels the SPLM to power.

One of the SPLM’s aims during the civil war was to allow freedom of expression and of the press but, while in government these freedoms have not always been accorded to journalists despite South Sudan seceding from Sudan in July last year.

Until this month, despite some instances of journalist being beaten while in custody no journalist had been killed in connection to their work. This appeared to change on 5 December a political columnist who was frequently critical of the SPLM-led government was shot dead in the capital Juba.

Friends and family say Isaiah Ding Abraham Chan Awuol has received numerous threats to stop writing before he was shot by unknown men outside his house.

Newspaper editors and proprietors in South Sudan have also complained that clear media laws need to be introduced so they now where they stand in terms of libel and defamation.

Mary Kiden MP, who represents Kajokeji County in Central Equatoria State told South Sudan’s parliament that she the draft bill should be discussed at length before passing it into law as she has "some serious concerns and misgivings on these bills".

For that reason, the MP said, "We need to read and understand these draft laws properly. We need to avoid our usual way of receiving draft laws and dump them without them to understand the contents."

Passing the media bills "will be big achievement not only to the journalists but also to the country and our people. So we need to think very, very carefully before passing them”, Kiden said.

Media groups and civil society organizations have broadly accepted the need for a tougher press watchdog but have been united in their opposition to provision in the proposed bill law which gives responsibility for appointing of the head of public broadcasting and corporation to country’s President based on recommendation of the minister of information.

Sabit James, an independent journalist from Western Equatoria State, told Sudan Tribune that parliament needs to amend the part of the bill that allows the minister of information to recommend appointment of head of public broadcasting. James said that the house should also not allow members of the press body to be chosen from people who are already with the government.

"The new watchdog must not be picked from among the old guards of the ministry of information", he said.

"The body should be composed of completely new independent groups. Because there are lots of things needed to be done. We also want to ensure that deliberation process is right and open. We need to ensure that it is fair, that it’s got sanctions that it can investigate”, he explained.

Some news agencies in their editorials are already arguing that the responsibility is now on the newspapers to show they could come up with a tougher watchdog without legislation being required.


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  • 14 December 2012 06:31, by omoni jr.

    There is nothing called parliament in south sudan, but Zoo which contains the wild animals. SPLM government is proved to be failed and disfunctioning government in Africa.

    repondre message

    • 14 December 2012 09:16, by King of jungle

      Dear Me,
      How can the Parliament be active while the of right of MPs is limited?the powers is for president which show dat our country is follow the Dictatorial leadership,no say from any bodies even Vice president has no voice cuze power is centralized to Kiir alone,all these shit and bill will nat make any sense thought they will be amended to be a law cuze he is over the laws.

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  • 14 December 2012 06:51, by wang

    The piece of that draft legislation will take at least a year or more before it becomes a legal in this country and more—more-more journalists will be tortured, murders, rapes and jail in that period

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  • 14 December 2012 06:57, by Alier

    South Sudan may the only country where journalists are beaten when they asked the government the questions government officials or police don’t want to hear. It shows we are unaware of how the real world functions. All this new country need is education that demonstrates how the real world works. The parliament is doing the right thing now; this is the first step to civilization.

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  • 14 December 2012 07:42, by George Bol

    S.Sudan leadership is in a problem. check the above site!

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  • 14 December 2012 07:52, by Kang

    Make sense now to hear South Sudan parliament debated media laws and they must amended in to Law if possible. However; Kiir-Mayar with his Kitchen Cabinet Security Agent will not understand the freedom of press. Salva Kiir must go on 2015 election that coming. Never-ever- deserve that presidency at all.

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  • 14 December 2012 09:46, by Mr Equal

    Can you watch this video please. So you will know and see people laying dead and wournded in street in Wau county in wastern Bahr el Ghaza state. And read what governor Hassan said yesterday.

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  • 14 December 2012 10:07, by Raanchol

    The SPLM party deceived the population of South Sudan by bringing fake and useless people to be taken to the national parliament where they have now weakened the government and have all become the lions of the day,killing the innocent civilians every day.2014 elections will come,you guys will see and you will sit in your tukuls.

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