JUBA – South Sudan government has warned journalists against being used against the country by those it calls enemies of peace, as country marks International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Committed Against Journalists.
South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, on Monday joined the rest of the world in commemorating the day under the theme, “Promoting a Safe and Conducive Media Environment for Journalists in South Sudan.”
The event which brought together government officials, Civil Society Organization and journalists aimed at finding the best ways to bring to justice perpetrators of crimes against journalists and media workers, and ensure that victims have access to appropriate remedies.
In his remarks during the occasion, Deputy Minister of Information, Baba Medan Konyi, cautioned journalists against being used by wrong elements of peace to tarnish the image of the country.
“I want to be very frank with you, sometimes there is a mistake either from us as the government or from you as the journalists,” he said.
“Don’t allow yourself to be used by some elements that are against your nation so that you will be ambassadors for taking false information,” Medan advised.
Hon. Paul Yoani Bonju, Chairperson for Specialized Committee for Information at the yet to be Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative praised journalists for being ambassadors of peace saying they are not against the country, nor the country’s political parties.
“You the journalist, you are messengers of peace. Those we don’t agree with will one day agree with me that journalists throughout the world are messengers of peace, they are not messengers of political parties, not messengers of businessmen and not messengers of politicians because in journalism we are just like a mirror,” the lawmaker said.
On his part, Elijah Alier Kuai, Managing Director of Media Authority appealed to the media fraternity to continue disseminating accurate and balanced information to the public to hold government officials accountable on issues related to political, social and economic development in the country.
“It is a right of every citizen to be informed and have access to information without prejudices to public order and safety of others as prescribed by law,” Alier said.
In December 2013, after substantial lobbying from IFEX members and other civil society defenders of freedom of expression, the 70th plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly passed resolution 68/163, recognizing 2 November as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
The date of the UN day marks the death of Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, two French journalists killed while reporting in Mali earlier that year.