South Sudan urged to allowed freedom of press & protect journalists

The US Ambassador has called the government to protect Journalists to help ensure that citizens are informed and described media as “key in democracy.”

Today May 3, the media practitioners commemorate World Press Freedom Day with this year’s theme, “Information as a Public Good.”

Journalists and media partners across the country joined an online discussion on press freedom in South Sudan.

US Ambassador to South Sudan Larry E. André, Jr said the World Press Freedom Day offers an opportunity to point out the abuses perpetrated against journalists and recommend protecting the media community.

He urged the government to stop intimidating journalists, unlawful arrests,  confiscation of equipment and allowed public access to information.

“Just as the government has responsibilities related to freedom of information, journalists have important responsibilities related to ethics and accurate information,” André said.

The Minister of Information and Postal Services, Michael Makuei, denied any restrictions government imposed on journalists. He argued that press freedom is protected by law in South Sudan, and no journalist was taken to court for wrongdoings despite inappropriate reporting.

Makuei warned that journalists could loss their membership or acts ethically. “You need to be abiding by professionalism, respect the rules and ethics of your profession,” He said.

Reporters Without Borders released a new report for this year, 2021, on World Press Freedom Index, indicated South Sudan dropped one spot to a ranking of 139 out of 180 countries.

The report states that journalists have faced harassment, arbitrary detention, torture, and even death in instances where they did not practice self-censorship.

The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day observed to raise awareness of the press’s importance and remind governments in 1991.

Government re-opened schools ending lockdown

South Sudan Minister of General Education and Instruction Hon. Awut Deng Acuil re-opened schools on Monday, ending children redundancy in the communities. 

Privates and public institutions include primary, secondary, and universities, were permitted to resume learning under COVID-19 restricted measures.

General education commanded children with disabilities, pregnant, girls and boys to go back to school. Parents were requested to follow the ministry instruction to allow children restart classes on Monday, May 3rd.

Teenagers girl’s early pregnancy saddened vice president for Service cluster Hussein Abdelbagi during the pandemic lockdown. 

He (Hussein) said, “the children are the future of the country. And the states’ government should work with national ministry of General Education to develop the education sector.”

UNICEF Country representative Hamida Lasseko appreciated the government commitment allowing access to education; while urging the ministry and parents to prioritize children.

“A lot happened to children when they were at home. Unfortunately, some of them were going through many difficulties and challenges, as we all know. And we know this has not been a short period; fourteen months of children being out of school are long. 

But, it is essential to mention that we need to take the lessons learned during this time. And to be more prepared to ensure that the safe return of school is sustained to take care of the school for these children.”

Education partners were alarmed by children who dropped out of schools, primarily teenagers who got marriages during lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ms. Hamida caution students to keenly observed health prevention measures in class.

Juba Day Secondary student Emmanuel Sola Andrea was so happy celebrating school re-opening after lifting the lockdown. 

“We lose some students who die during the time of the pandemic. We are sitting with him in the primary leaving examination. It is painful to us.” 

Female students in Juba Day Secondary Josephine Francis Badi believed schools re-opening would reduce risky pregnancy and early marriages among school girls.

South Sudan closed all schools in March 2020 as a COVID-19 prevention measure, and candidate classes were given the green light in October.