May 22, 2014 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese parliament said on Thursday that it hopes to see the emergence of a vibrant media landscape in the country in order to public access to information , saying it is a vital requirement to the creation of a transparent, accountable and democratic governance system.
“The vision of the parliament as an institution in which our people from all corners of this country are represented is that we hope to see [a] vibrant media to enhance democracy,” Mark Nyipuoc, deputy speaker of the national legislative assembly, told Sudan Tribune on Thursday. “You know that a professional and responsible media has an important role in the nation-building,” he added.
The top legislator said the government had embarked on a wide range of measures aimed at media reform, as well as repositioning its role in the country.
He said the government was committed to ensuring that a transparent and people-driven access to information bill was put in place.
Nyipuoc explained that the government had constituted a taskforce comprising of civil society representatives, faith-based organisations, academia, the legal fraternity, human rights activists and other key stakeholders to contribute to the drafting of the media bill.
He said the multi-sector composition of the taskforce was testimony of government’s commitment to a transparent system of governance.
“In this regard and in line with our party manifesto, [the] government has embarked on a wide range of measures to reform and reposition the media in the country so that it plays its full and rightful role in national development,” he said.
Nyipuoc said once the drafting process was completed, the government would engage legal experts and members of the media in order to avoid any conflict with existing pieces of legislation, particularly those pertaining to national security and other related bills.
South Sudan has previously faced criticism for its growing intolerance towards a free press and oppressive controls, particularly after the government warned journalists earlier this year that they could face arrest or possible expulsion from the country if they interviewed opposition forces currently engaged in an armed rebellion against the Juba administration.