The communication and information specialist for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO has urged the government to ensure the safety of journalists.
Doreen Loboko made her remarks during the commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists in Aweil town on Thursday.
Globally marked on every November 2, the day is an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of press freedom and the need to protect journalists from violence and attacks.
Media outlets in South Sudan are routinely blocked from covering issues related to conflict and journalists often face harassment, arbitrary detention and intimidation, according to watchdogs.
In 2022, Reporters Without Borders ranked South Sudan at 128 of 180 countries in terms of press freedom, falling by more than 10 places below from the 2021 index.
But Loboka says journalists’ work is a keystone for democracy.
She says independent journalism provides citizens with the information they need to make informed decisions about policies that directly impact their lives.
“The media like radio Akol Yam is for us to speak about issues – hold our leaders accountable; but also for educating ourselves,” the UNESCO representative stated.
“So, with freedom of expression, with free access to information, we can save lives. We are also able to build ourselves as individuals and community.”
In response, the director general at the ministry of information in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, claimed government was ready to protect the journalists.
However, Barnaba Aguer urged journalists to do their work in a professional manner to avoid getting into trouble authorities.
The theme for the 2023 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists focuses on the violence against journalists, the integrity of elections, and the role of public leadership.
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