South Sudan Media Authority has launched the accreditation of all journalists operating in the country.
The media regulatory body wants any media personnel operating in South Sudan to seek its clearance by paying annual fees.
For this fiscal year, foreign journalists shall acquire accreditation at $100 for 6month, and $50 for 3 months period, while South Sudanese journalists shall pay 5,000 South Sudanese Pounds for 6 months and 10,000 South Sudanese Pounds for 12 months period.
According to Elijah Alier, the Managing Director of the Media Authority, the accreditation of journalists will be actualized this month.
“Media Authority will commence the accreditation of bona fide national journalists with effect from Monday, October 17th 2022. The purpose of the accreditation is to certify recognition of working journalists and other qualified media practitioners.”
He added that the “accreditation shall be granted only to an individual upon presentation of professional certificates, a recommendation letter duly issued by the media agency for which the media professional works, and a filled application form.”
Mr. Alier further intimated that the accreditation will help in streamlining and differentiating professionals from citizens journalists.
“….everybody is a journalist and this is one of the issues that we need to streamline. For you to be in the media sector, you must meet the requirement,” he underscored.
South Sudan media managers have welcomed the move by the media authority, but urged it not to use the accreditation as a means to curtail media freedoms.
“I think this is going to be a good thing [but] the only concern we have a bit is, it should not suppress the freedom of expression. It should not go to a point too soon whereby if you don’t have the ID, then you are not allowed to cover the event,”said Oyet Patrick, President of the Union of Journalists of South Sudan.
Koang Pal Chang, the chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Association for Media Development in South Sudan said the step taken by the media authority is not alien.
“It is a normal procedures in any other country, it’s happening in Uganda, Kenya, journalists are accredited by their government…it is part of media regulation in South Sudan. The requirement are very simple, if you want to be a journalist, you need to meet those requirement,” he argued.
The Media Authority Regulations on Accreditation of Journalists, 2018 states that “Any journalist, being a citizen or resident of South Sudan who wishes to be recognized as an ‘Accredited Journalist’ may apply to the Authority for such status…”
The accreditation is issued for 3 months and 12 months and subject to renewal.
Mr. Alier maintained that the accreditation will make it easier for journalists to receive the cooperation of security personnel in the country.
“Most of you have been using media house ID… [and] as long as that media house is recognized by the Media Authority, they [security] respect that, but there are individual journalists who are not associated with any. So accreditation is important in this situation and all the government level should be made aware of the accreditation of the national Journalists,” he concluded.