September 15, 2016 (JUBA) -The Association for Media Development in South Sudan (ADMISS) has issued a strong worded statement on Thursday in protest of the closure of an independent newspaper by government security personnel, describing it as a deliberate ploy to muzzle press freedom and access to public information.
- A vendor sells newspapers in the South Sudanese capital, Juba (Photo: Al-Jazeera)
Alfred Taban, chairperson for the media association in the country said the organization views the closure of these media institutions as suppression of the press and clampdown on free speech.
He said the manner and nature through which these media institutions were closed speak to the fact that the government actions is geared toward silencing critical voices and information provided to our people.
"The Association for Media development in South Sudan strongly condemns the indefinite closure of the nation Mirror English daily newspaper by South Sudan national security", the statement bearing Alfred’s signature, copy of which was extended to Sudan Tribune, reads in part.
The 15 September statement described the closure of the independent newspaper as a serious threat to freedom of expression and of the press. the unilateral decision, it further added, represents a clear sign of intimidation to scare media fraternity in the country from doing its work.
" AMDISS is deeply aggrieved with this unacceptable behaviour and calls on the concerned authorities to put to an end this act of interference and create a conducive environment for the media to play its role as the watchdog," the statement protested.
Meanwhile the Coalition of Civil Society organizations in South Sudan issued a statement in which they also protested the closure, saying such acts undermines freedom of the press.
According to the group, it is mind-boggling and breathtaking for the government led by officials who fought in a more than two decade conflict on promise of protecting democratic tenets to continue what it is terming as broad day closure of media institutions, thereby undermining the democracy with its attending tenets.
"We wish to categorically state that such acts undermine the objective of liberation struggle which culminated to the independence of this country. The behaviours themselves are confirming that allegations that the government does not tolerate an alternative view, which is unacceptable. We therefore call on the authorities to cease taking such decision in the interest of peace, love, harmony and tolerance," the group said in the statement.
The advocacy group and media association were reacting to a 14 September decision by the national security who asked the management of the Nation Mirror to stop publication with immediate effect after being summoned to headquarters of the national security service in Jebel area.
No reason was given for shutting down the paper. South Sudanese authorities have in the past shut down a number of newspapers, including The Citizen.
Many journalists have been killed in South Sudan for the past five years of its independence.