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Media regulator denies violation of press freedom, opinion

Author: Woja Emmanuel | Published: Saturday, March 7, 2020

Elijah Alier, Managing Director - Media Authority speaks during Press Freedom Day in May 2019 in Juba - Photo by Joakino Francis/Eye Radio

The media authority in South Sudan has rejected a report by the UN human rights commission that claimed the government has continued to deny citizens freedom of expression.

In the Commission’s report, which is expected to be presented to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council on 9 March, outlined continued denial of information, freedom of expression gross violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes, including sexual and gender-based violence and ethnic violence.

The report also highlighted continued harassment, arrests and detention of journalists in the country without trial citing the arrest of more than three journalists including the editor in chief of Alwatan an Arabic daily newspaper.

The report stated that Michael Christopher was detained in connection to an opinion article he wrote in support of protests in Sudan in January and released on August 26 without charge after spending more than 7 months in detention.

In October 2019, Media Authority revoked press credentials and expelled Sam Mednick, a freelance journalist for the Associated Press the report said, a claim, the media authority denied.

Elijah Alier, the Managing Director of the Media Authority stressed that the report was based on illusive assumptions in some sections and misinterpretation of the provisions in the laws.

“The authority observes with a great concern cycle of denial of facts, misinterpretation of the provisions in the laws and illusive assumptions in some sections of the report and wish to bring to the attention of the commission some shortfalls, inaccuracies, unbalanced and disputable points in the report,” said the managing director.

He claimed that the commission didn’t consult them and hence it lacks credible sources.

“The report did not meet the required evidentiary standards and expertise as expected in the applicable laws. It was influenced by one-sided sources without cross-checking with the other parties,” Alier emphasized.

“The commission’s report lack reliability of sources, the validity of information gathered, concrete evidence, consultation which did not give chance for the right of reply to the identified entities.”

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