Human rights activists in South Sudan have protested against a government
order banning media in the country from covering the unrest in Sudan.
Reec Malual, a Juba-based lawyer and human rights activist on Wednesday said
that the order passed by the South Sudan Media Authority on Monday is
inappropriate and violated press freedom.
“It is not appropriate to suppress voices as it contradicts articles 24 and
32 of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan (TCSS) 2011
as amended which provide rights to freedom of expression and access to
information,” said Mr Malual.
South Sudan media regulator argued that the demonstrations in the northern
neighbour, now in their third week, were internal affairs.
“The ongoing protests in Khartoum are internal issues affecting a friendly
nation, the media in South Sudan should not write or broadcast instigative
statements and comments about it,” Sapana Abuyi, the acting director of the
media regulator said in a statement.
The order followed a complaint by the Sudan embassy in Juba after Al
Watan, an Arabic newspaper in Juba, run articles deemed to be
supportive of the protests.
The paper’s Editor-in-Chief Mr Michael Christopher was summoned to explain
the motive for publishing stories critical of President Omar al-Bashir’s
The media regulator also ordered the newspaper to publish an official
apology to the Sudanese embassy within 72 hours.
However, Mr Christopher has vowed not to apologise saying that the
publication did not flout media guidelines.
“My position is that I cannot make any apology…our newspaper didn’t
violate the rules of the media authority and the overall journalistic work in
the country,” he said.
Edmund Yakani, another activist, said the directive aimed at stifling free
“This is a violation of freedom of expression. South Sudanese media
covering the political developments in Sudan is not a crime and since we have
Sudanese population in South Sudan it is their legal right to know what is
taking place in Khartoum,” said Mr Yakani.
Deadly anti-government riots have rocked major Sudanese cities including the
capital Khartoum since December 19.
The government says 19 people, including two soldiers, have so far been
killed, but Amnesty International says it has credible reports that 37 people
were shot dead by security forces in the first five days.
The protests began following a government
decision to increase the price of bread, but have turned political with
demonstrators now demanding the exit of President Bashir.