USAID urges gov’t to help media flourish

The acting Deputy Mission Director for USAID-South Sudan has called on the government of South Sudan to create an enabling environments for media to flourish.

Darren Manning made the call at a forum attended by over 100 representatives of media houses and private sector and government officials and organized by AMDISS to find solution to challenges facing media sustainability in  South Sudan.

South Sudan ranks 128th out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) press freedom index. It says freedom of the press is “extremely precarious” in the new nation, “where journalists work under constant threat and intimidation, and where censorship is ever-present”.

Addressing the gathering, Manning expressed USAID commitment to supporting independent media in South Sudan.

“The US government, through USAID, has invested millions of dollars in the independent media in South Sudan because we believe that it is a vital cornerstone to any functional democracy,” he said.

However, he urged the government to put more commitment to creating enabling space for media to succeed.

“We would like to see the government of South Sudan showing more commitment to providing an enabling environment for Media to thrive,” Manning stated.

“This can be achieved by demonstrating support for the implementation of the relevant laws as well as a commitment to upholding international principles that promote freedom of expression and freedom of press.”

For his part, the Deputy Minister for Information, Telecommunication and Postal Service – Jacob Maiju Korok – acknowledged the important role the media shall play during upcoming elections.

“We are approaching a very sensitive and historical moment of election, of which the media will play a very important role to educate our masses on how to cast a vote and how to select leaders. So, we need sensitization so that people get the right information from the government,” Korok said.

Held at a hotel in Juba, the first annual sustainability forum, which is on media leadership and gender sensitivity, will conclude on 14 September.