AMDISS calls for access to information

The Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) has called for unhindered access to information in public offices.

The call comes during the commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day, being observed under the there: Shaping a Future of Rights: “Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights”.

The Right to Access to Information Act 2013 stipulates that “Every citizen shall have the right of access to information, including electronic records held by any public or private body..” provided that a request for information is made in writing.

However, journalists have been reportedly finding it impossible to access public information due to what appears to be ignorance.

“We are…acknowledging the challenges of the environment [journalists] are going through in their operation such as difficulties to access vital unclassified information and censorship,” writes AMDISS in a statement issued on Wednesday.

Journalists often say concerned government offices such as that of police departments and county commissions decline to reveal details of incidents like theft, intercommunal clashes, and killings.

Just this week, authorities in Torit County, Eastern Equatoria State, declined to give information on four people that had been killed in a fighting over elopement. 

“While some of the cases have been addressed, we would like to advocate and look forward for more positive change in the quest and conveyance of information,” it continues.

Meanwhile, the governments of the United States and United Kingdom have renewed calls for the Kiir administration to hold “credible investigation into the death of Christopher Allen and make results public”.

Allen was a US-British journalist who was killed in a fighting between government and SPLA-IO forces in Kaya, Central Equatoria State, in August 2017.

According to initial reports, he was the victim of crossfire. This version of events was soon discounted because he was shot five times by government soldiers in the apparent belief that he was a “white rebel”.

The foreign governments have been urging Juba to probe Allen’s death and bring to book those behind his demise.

However, Michael Makuei, information minister in 2022 while addressing a function to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, said the government could not investigate Allen’s death and considered him a rebel at the time of his death.