Saturday, May 06, 2017

South Sudan: Media Body Condemns Suspension of Al-Jazeera
May 3, 2017 (JUBA) - Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the decision by South Sudan’s Media Authority to suspend, until further notice, activities of Al-Jazeera English bureau.

The media body issued the directive in a letter dated 1 May, 2017.

According to the media authority order, Al-Jazeera bureau’s staffs have been banned from covering anything to do with South Sudan.

The ban reportedly follows a series of Al-Jazeera reports about the ongoing clashes between government forces and rebel troops, in which it was reported that several innocent civilians had been displaced by fighting in Kajo-Keji, a county in South Sudan.

“Its [Al-Jazeera] references to the significant losses sustained by the government forces in the course of this fighting seem to upset the authorities,” RSF said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune.

The media body described the closure of Al-Jazeera bureau in Juba as “an attack on media pluralism and the freedom to inform”.

In recent months, however, increasing reports of harassment faced by journalists in South Sudan have raised concerns that South Sudan is reneging on the basic freedoms its authorities promised the population when the country seceded from Sudan in July 2011.

Also, South Sudan government’s failure to pass legislation protecting the media has increased concerns about the state of press freedom.

For instance, when conflict broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, authorities warned the media fraternity against reporting about rebels. In some incidents, the country’s security forces would march into newspaper offices and demand that a copy to be re-written.

War-torn South Sudan, according to RSF’s World Press Freedom Index, has fallen 30 places since the start of the civil war and has been ranked 145th out of 180 countries surveyed in the 2017 Index.


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