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S. Sudan media reject registration directive for journalists

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December 4, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s media fraternity has condemned a directive by the information and broadcasting minister requiring that journalists register with the government.

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Newspapers vendor in Juba streets (Photo Cafod)

Journalists say the requirement contravenes constitutional provisions that guarantee freedom of expression, including dissemination of information.

The heads of various independent media outlets in the country failed to reach an understanding on the matter during a meeting on Tuesday with the minister, Michael Makuei Lueth.

Nhial Bol, editor-in-chief of The Citizen English-language newspaper told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that media representatives were unable to reach a consensus with authorities because they rejected demands for the registration of all journalists.

Bol said journalists had pulled out of the meeting after accusing Lueth of acting outside of the law.

“The meeting with the minister did not reach any consensus. He (Lueth) wants all journalists to be registered. They need [a] curriculum vitae for individual journalists. This was rejected and the journalists pulled out of the meeting”, Bol told Sudan Tribune.

“There is no basis. The minister is acting outside of the law. It is just a verbal order. We asked him to put it into writing in the form of [a] ministerial order, but he did not do it. So there is no basis”, Bol added.

According to Bol, media houses can willingly register their staff, but individual journalists should not be forced to do so.

“As institutions, we have accepted and registered in compliance with the government policies, but we cannot force individual journalists to register because there is no law which calls for it”, he said.

He described the directive as “an unlawful act which cannot be encouraged”, stressing that media houses are willing to “hire lawyers to defend journalists in court” if the minister seeks to interfere in their operations.

ILLEGAL POLICY

Independent journalist John Augustine Justin expressed “deep concern” over the new directive, saying it is a tactic aimed at silencing the media.

“Instead of promoting and protecting press freedom the government wants to muzzle the press to avoid accountability. This is a dangerous move and the earlier the minister reconsiders his decision the better for all the stakeholders”, Justin told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.

Editor-in-chief of the Juba Monitor Alfred Taban slammed the minister’s directive as “illegal and unconstitutional”.

“The minister [has] assumed the role of media authority, which is the body supposed to be handling such matters, but as you know, the bill which would regulate this body has not been passed into law. The Minister is therefore acting outside the law. The directives are illegal and unconstitutional”, Taban said.

JOURNALISTS “CROSSING THE REDLINE”

Meanwhile, a senior government official at the ministry of information and broadcasting claimed the institution is under intense pressure from the “higher authority” to ensure media do not cross the line.

“You know nobody is against the press freedom. This is a democratic country and we know the importance of the media. The media acts like a mirror. The problem is that some journalists want to report everything. They are crossing the redline”, the official told Sudan Tribune on condition of anonymity.

Human right organisations say violations to freedom of expression and personal freedoms are frequent in South Sudan, particularly towards critical voices.

The violations are perpetrated by government officials in positions of authority, as well as law enforcement agencies as a ploy to silence critics.

Journalists, members of civil society and human rights defenders have reported experiencing sustained harassment, including assaults, torture, death threats and unlawful arrests and detentions.

(ST)

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  • 5 December 2013 06:38, by Mi diit

    Mr. Lueth should stop lying to the public for name sake. Gush, this man is a born dictator. You could see from his eyes and commanding statements. He is a misguided lawyer. He is so excited to work under a growing dictatorship of incompetent Kiir, not knowing that he is spoiling his own future, fighting a losing war with the media.

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    • 5 December 2013 06:47, by Mi diit

      Lueth (lie) and his incompetent should learn that media has the right to report any thing about public figures. In US here, Bill Clinton was all over the media for having sex with Monica Lowinsky. Yasser Arafat, the former Palestinian leader was all over media for being ill. The media should report about Kiir having sex with a church young girl in Kator or ill with undisclosed disease. Normal!!!

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      • 5 December 2013 07:12, by Tata

        It is obvious that we are very chaotic in the name of democracy and freedom. Every field of work has its code of conduct, ethics and professionalism. Why do them reject presentation of their professional credentials for registration? Unless they don’t possess such credentials which they claim as foundation for their qualification as journalists. They shall possess recognized & reliable IDs.

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        • 5 December 2013 17:00, by Ahmed Chol

          What constitutes a RED LINE? Is it something like Salva Kiir Daughter Marriage and Pregnancy or ...... ? Makuei should tell journalist what needs to be reported and what needs not to be reported, so that they know where the red line is.

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      • 5 December 2013 07:32, by Ayuen deng

        I think we need to understand one, thing we should not blame the government for not doing enough, Michael is try making sure that all media houses and their personnel are registered to a void
        false information such as abuses of government,more specially president Kiir. i don’t real like the media is.any media should be made accountable for what they print out or put online.

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      • 5 December 2013 09:02, by Mayom County Boy

        To: Madiit i support the rol that was done by makuei lueth
        because bieng a journalist doesn,t mean that you will just report some thing doesn,t happen . look most journalist now who are staying in south sudan are becoming lie because they are posting nonsense information to medias even they are posting on different website for wrong differents information whom are not true to be say by an citizen

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    • 5 December 2013 09:49, by Naath

      This is how the failed Government work, ,lying is the only option, but all and all Government of confuse and hopeless kiir is going to the direction of no return and the hopeless tribal leader will face south sudanese in anyway either by votes or in war field

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    • 5 December 2013 11:11, by jijury

      I know My colleagues Nhial Bol and Alfred Taban cannot allow themselves to be humiliated by the so called Makuei Lueth. These two gentlemen stood for the truth even during the dark days in Khartoum, they were arrested many times and never gave up. Keep up the good deed we, your people are behind you. Inept Kiir & his security units must tell us why they killed Isaiah Abraham!

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  • 5 December 2013 07:09, by Gatluak

    The government is doom, blind 2 see future of its citizen. Micheal Makui is one of the best lawyar who is very know 4 a very long time. Now, simply becoz of "let me not lose my job have a kids in Uganda/kenya", he is now bring himselfe down to the level of childish. Who is Kiir and what is wrong of losing job? quit the fucken job. Time has come 4 pple of S.Sudan to celebrate da real independency.

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  • 5 December 2013 07:34, by dinkdong

    Why is there has to be "red line" in a democratic country? What do freedom of speech says?

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    • 5 December 2013 07:45, by Lotodo Awino Odug

      There is nothing wrong with registrations and issuing of IDS, they are meant for identification and security of the said journalists. I do believe with no doubt that Makuei is a worse dictator and pig from Bor follow by his drink buddy Kuol Juuk Ajarwin.

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    • 5 December 2013 08:31, by Aweil the Role Model State 4peace

      Dinkdong,
      What a childish and ridicolous question?
      The freedom of expressions can allow fake journalists to alleged that you mother is a whore, your father is a murderer, your brother is a thief, your sister is impregnated by me, you are a witch, when all the allegations ’re not true but they must be shared publicly because we are in democracy.
      Oh God! help us from these hypocrite creatures.

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      • 5 December 2013 13:27, by Mi diit

        Aweil the role-model state for dictatorship,
        How are you and your uncle Paul Malong Awan coping with the community of Aweil who want to remove him? Journalists are free to write any thing and if they lie about the things you have mentioned, they are taken to court. That is how it works. You don’t stop them by force, but take them to court, example if one of them lies that X impregnated your wife.

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        • 6 December 2013 06:13, by Aweil the Role Model State 4peace

          Midiit,
          I can’t help you @all bcoz you are so mad about democracy when you don’t even know how to advocate it to the people.
          What a contradicted comment from Nyagat/traitor? Did i really read you well that your so called journalists should be allowed to report anything and later on sued in court of law?
          Which evidence or identity will be used to find them and they ’re not registered.
          Cont.

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        • 6 December 2013 06:30, by Aweil the Role Model State 4peace

          In regard to your so called Aweil community in Juba instead of Aweil Community in Aweil, i want to tell you that those people in Juba ’re not Aweil Community but they are group of stooges who are thirsty about power exactly like you and your Murderer Riek, I will not surprise when you declared Criminal Riek as a President while in Poland bcoz South Sudanese are living there.
          What a shame!

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        • 6 December 2013 08:00, by dinkdong

          @Mi diit,
          Thank you for dealing with that idiot bearing the name Aweil... He looks like he is the one who don’t know what the hell he is talking about.

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      • 5 December 2013 13:28, by Mi diit

        Aweil the role-model state for dictatorship,
        How are you and your uncle Paul Malong Awan coping with the community of Aweil who want to remove him? Journalists are free to write any thing and if they lie about the things you have mentioned, they are taken to court. That is how it works. You don’t stop them by force, but take them to court, example if one of them lies that X impregnated your wife.

        repondre message

      • 6 December 2013 10:00, by Jojo

        Hi Aweil Role model,
        You are the most stupid and idiot commentator. How can you side with those trying to silent the voice of journalists? Brave Journalists have right to report everything. I encourage our journalists to report everything.
        Am sure you are messing up, plus your Paul Awan. Wasting government money to feed 100+ illegal wives and his children are on Aweil street as street kids.

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  • 5 December 2013 08:16, by Mokili Lorumba

    the rejection means they don’t have any qualification to be registered as journalist, they know only propaganda, shame on you the unqualified journalist of South Sudan

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    • 5 December 2013 08:53, by moto

      MR.MAKUEI LUETH SHOULD STOP LYING TO US,WE DON,T WANT TO GO BACK TO DARK DAYS WHERE THEY LOOTED PUBLIC FUNDS WITHOUT KNOWING THE REALLY THIEF.WE KNOW YOUR INTENTION THAT IS WHY YOU TRY TO MADLY WITH OUR FREEDOM TO HIDE YOUR EVIL ACT.PLEASE PUT IN YOUR MIND THAT THE EVIL MEN DO LIVE AFTER THEM, THE GOOD IS OFTEN INTERRED IN THEIR BONES.PLEASES MIND 2015 GENERAL ELECTION.

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    • 5 December 2013 08:56, by Wicdail

      This is ridiculous, why the Government want the Journalists’ CV when it’s not the government who employ them? This is the responsibility of individual media to make sure that they identify their journalists for the safety of our leaders and society.

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  • 6 December 2013 04:37, by chol

    All journalists must register for sake of democracy.There are alot of idiots fake reporters out there and have to be held accountable for their lie.Why are they afraid to register? Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you have to tell lie.I think most of them got their fake certificate from Uganda or Kenya and they don’t want to get caught.That why they refuse registration.
    Chol Y

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