South Sudan’s improvement on press freedom ranking great news
Yesterday, journalists in the country joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Press Freedom Day.
In South Sudan, the event was held in Wau, Western Bahr el-Ghazal State by the Union of Journalists of South Sudan with the support of the media partners.
While there are still cases of harassment of journalists, and a lack of freedom of the press in the country, it is important to note that the country has made a significant improvement in one year in terms of upholding press freedom. To some extent, the formation of the coalition government has brought freedom to the country.
According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on the World Press Freedom Index released yesterday, South Sudan made a significant improvement from 139 out of 180 countries in 2021 to 128 out of 180 countries in 2022. This is a very big achievement as far as freedom of the press is concerned. This is a good result that needs to be maintained to get a better ranking next year.
However, climbing up the ranking log may not be achievable if the authorities fail to adhere to the fundamental principles of freedom of the press because several countries like Nigeria, Uganda, Sudan, Russia, and India have fallen backwards and all ranked behind South Sudan. Being referred to as the world’s youngest country does not mean South Sudan is just a figure but hard work is the only determinant factor.
So, the authorities need to live up to the principle of democracy and provide favourable conditions and not interfere with the work of journalists. Although the media outlets have not registered cases of gross violation of freedom of expression this year compared to the period before the signing of the revitalised peace agreement, a group of journalists was recently detained and interrogated for covering a press conference at the national parliament in Juba.
However, some of those violations often happen due to misunderstandings between the security personnel and the reporters. That means there is a great need to improve the cooperation between the two groups. The security officers and journalists need to cooperate among themselves and the former need to understand that the media is not working against the authorities. In reality, they are just working to serve the needs of the citizens as the security intends to promote peace and stability in the country, and so the media informs the citizens of what is happening around them and within the world.
For those of you who believe in the power of the media, imagine spending just an hour without information for people who have access to modern technologies? The world would turn into confusing territory. That is why the media is working throughout even during public holidays just because it wants to keep the public informed. But this would not be possible if there is no freedom of the press.