August 2, 2014 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese government on Friday dismissed a joint report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International which highlighted cases of harassment, intimidation and unlawful detention of journalists by National Security Service (NSS) members.
- South Sudanese information minister Michael Makuei Lueth attends a press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 5 January 2014 (Photo: AP/Elias Asmara)
Information minister Michael Makuei said the young nation currently enjoys the highest standard of media freedom in the region.
“I think our Journalists are the only people enjoying full rights in the region,” said Makuei, claiming that local reporters attend every meetings and discussions on national issues, without any restrictions
However, he warned journalists to be careful while covering certain areas like security.
“In South Sudan we have given freedom to the journalists except on issues to do on national Security which is the Security of nation and his people,” he said.
Since the fighting started in December, reporters have been cautioned not to interview members of the opposition led by former vice-president Riek Machar, the two leading rights entities said in their joint report. A number of publications, it said, have also been seized by security agents acting on orders from the government.
“The government clampdown takes place at a time when South Sudan most needs independent voices to contribute to discussions about how to end the political crisis and internal armed conflict,” said Elizabeth Ashamu Deng, a South Sudan researcher at Amnesty International
There have also been calls for an end to these abuses and for South Sudan’s parliament to ensure proper oversight of the NSS, in line with international human rights law and standards.