Journalists have walked out of an SPLM press conference this morning for what they describe as a disrespectful treatment by the organizers.
“Journalists decided to move out of the premises because something which was said to be a press conference turned out to be a meeting,” some journalists explained.
They were invited for a presser at the ruling SPLM party secretariat in Juba on Tuesday, January 12.
The acting SPLM Secretary-General, Jemma Nunu Kumba was expected to address the press.
The agenda of the presser was not disclosed to the media.
The press conference was to start at around 9:30 am, but at that time, the room was still unclean, disorganized and inside the hall, a woman was sorting vegetables commonly known as “Korofo”.
At around 10: 30 journalists started asking why the presser was delaying. Some of the journalists had arrived at the venue at 9 am and had to wait until 10:30 am without indication of the presser happening.
They were then asked to enter the press conference hall at the SPLM national secretariat office and sit.
Journalists were asked to sit in front, but later they were asked by the organizers to sit behind because the front seats were meant for what the organizers say “directors, secretaries and some SPLM leaders.”
The journalists then questioned whether it was a press conference or an SPLM meeting.
“The people who were supposed to do the press conference were not there…then they told the journalists to stand behind when they were asked ‘why? they said it’s a meeting,” one journalist explained.
After a brief discussion and when the journalists refused to leave their seats, some of them decided to walk out.
The rest of the assembled press corps also walked out in solidarity.
“This one should send an alarm to institutions and some government officials who are calling for journalists to come and cover their events and treat them in a wrong way,” a freelance reporter stated.
“Most of the freelance journalists move from a long distance and at the end, you disappoint them like that. This should act as a lesson that they should give us respect like we also do for them.”
According to rights groups, journalists in South Sudan experience intimidation, censorship, and harassment.
In November 2019, two female journalists were physically attacked by the SSPDF’s Media and Public Relations Director.
The SSPDF had invited the press to cover the annual Military Command Council meeting attended by President Salva Kiir at Bilpam in Juba.
About five journalists were told to set up their recorders at the conference hall when General Malaak Ayuen rudely asked them to leave.
He reportedly hit the two female journalists on the back while pushing them towards the back of the conference hall.
The journalists were eventually forced to move to the corner of the room where the recording of the speech of the President was poor.
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