Our liberty depends on media freedom, says US diplomat

Our liberty depends on media freedom, says US diplomat
U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, David Renz, delivers a speech during a get-together dinner for journalists, media practitioners, and diplomatic corps on Tuesday in Juba (photo credit: Confucius Taban)

The United States Embassy in South Sudan’s Chargé d’Affaires, David Renz, has called for the sustenance of freedom of expression, saying it provides a foundation for nation-building.

“The most durable governments in the world derive their power and authority from the consent of the people they govern.”

” Freedom of expression is the bedrock on which enduring nations are built. America enshrined this principle in our constitution, ” he said.

Renze made the statement during a get-together dinner for journalists, media practitioners, diplomatic corps, and constitutional post holders on Tuesday in Juba.

The diplomat said a free press bears witness to the people’s exercise of their right to free expression.

“Even in the face of violence, a free press forced people to confront discrimination and bring it all into their living rooms, ” he stated. 

“This tells us that our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” 

He further added that the role of the press has long been recognised as a check on abuses by the other branches of government, considering it the fourth branch of government.

He said at a time when the truth is increasingly under attack, people’s need for accurate, fact-based reporting, open public conversation, and accountability has never been greater. 

“It is where journalists uncover the truth, check the abuse of power, and demand transparency from those in power.”  

Renz urged the authorities to consider and promote freedom of the press as a vital thing for the country’s development as it holds leaders accountable for wrongdoing. 

He stressed that the ability of journalists to gather and research facts and report the news is vital for facilitating the free flow of information. He added that this enables individuals to hold governments accountable. 

“The United States wants South Sudan to thrive. To be at peace with itself and to prosper. I want this for each of you. But we can’t want it more than you do. I can’t want it more than you do. The future is in your hands. I’m betting it will be bright. ” 

The US diplomat said, “Freedom of expression is not controversial in the abstract. Its roots date back to ancient Greece. Isegoria described the equal right of citizens to participate in public debate in the democratic assembly; parrhesia, the license to say what one pleased, how and when one pleased, and to whom. ”  

On elections

On the election question, Renz said it was very important for the country to hold the polls so that people trust the leaders they vote for. 

“You must also hold elections for a representative government. One chosen by the people to replace the current appointed government of national unity, itself established by the Revitalised Transitional Peace Agreement.”

He said it was when freedom of expression became most vital to diffusing conflict, rebuilding consensus, and preserving peace.

Bullen Kenyi Yatta Wani, Chairperson of the National Press Club, described the event as “historic” because they gathered media practitioners and other branches of both diplomatic missions and government entities. 

He urged journalists to band together and work as professionals to realise their dream of informing people in accordance with their ethics. 

The “Get Together Dinner” was an event organized by the National Press Club (NPC) in partnership with UNESCO and the US Embassy as its main donor. 

The dinner ended with a bang as all the guests, including the US Chargé d’Affaires, David Renz, and other diplomatic corps and government officials were seen dancing.