South Sudan: Jonglei Minister - the Media Must Act Responsibly

Bor — Jonglei's minister of information and broadcasting, Hussein Maar Nyuot, warned independent and government journalists against working with fabricated material which can bring division and eventually conflict to the state.

Over twenty journalists from the ministry of information and private journalists are in training in Bor, learning how to handle sensitive reporting on subjects such as human rights cases and conflicts.

Speaking to the media at the training in White Nile Hotel on Tuesday, Nyuot identified the role of the journalists in peace-building in South Sudan.

Nyuot, who is also the state's deputy governor, said journalists have a large part to play in nation-building by reporting accurate news to the public, adding, "we need to have responsible media that will report accurately, not to incite the communities against one another".

He said South Sudan is developing media laws that will protect both the citizens and the journalists equally. A bill, explained Nyout, will be passed into law soon after it is passed by the assembly and signed by the President.

The London-based freedom of information and expression organisation, Article 19, released a report in July analysing the draft media legislation. It notes that it "will not be independent from the government for a number of reasons. Firstly, its members would be appointed by the joint action of the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, the Council of Ministers, and the President, and can be removed by the President, on the recommendation of the Minister."

Nyuot cautioned the trainees against writing libellous stories for which they can be held answerable to in the court of law.

"You need to know what lies within the law, there are laws protecting the people. If it happens that your source is not correct, and if you defame someone, or cause incitement, a lot of things can happen to you as a journalist; you will be sued in the court of law," he warned.

Nyuot advised the media group that, "a word you throw to the media is difficult to withdraw again, and it divides the communities."

Media consultant and workshop facilitator, Baduru Mulumba, said the training would help journalists understand the basic skills of reporting on human rights issues by identifying the correct sources of information.

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