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South Sudan News

Civil Society Activists Reportedly Harassed, Intimidated During Visit By UNSC Delegation

By Aurelious Simon Chopee

 

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said it has received reports of threats and harassment of some civil society members who met the delegation of the United Nations Security Council during the visit to Juba last weekend.


The peacekeeping mission said in a press release that it was deeply concerned by the reports.

“These reported actions are in violation of the rights to freedom of expression, movement and civil and political engagement, which are fundamental pillars of a democratic society” the mission said. 

Adding “Any attempt to suppress these rights through threats and harassment must be condemned in no uncertain terms” 

UNMISS stressed that the platform offered by members of the United Nations Security Council was an opportunity for an open dialogue with a view to gaining greater understanding of some of the issues and concerns faced by South Sudanese citizens at the grassroots level. 


It explained that it will raise their concerns with all relevant authorities. 


The United Nation Security Council visited Juba last week to push for the deployment of extra 4000 troops as reinforcement to the 13000 troops of UNMISS as a regionally proposed protection force. During the three day tour, the 15 member delegation headed by US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Samantha Power held talks with the government and agreed on the deployment of the protection force in principle. However government says there is room for negotiation to consent on troop contributing countries, armament and others.


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Women, Council Of Churches Urge Citizens To Embrace Peace

By Garang Abraham Malak

 

Coalition of National Women and South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) on Thursday held a two days workshop at Aron International Hotel in Juba, on way forward to peace and reconciliation.

The event under the theme “Human body has many parts but many parts makes up a body” and organized in collaboration between the two organizations, called on all citizens to embrace peace and unity as the gateway to reconstruct the young conflict devastated country.


The Minister of Roads and Bridges, Rebecca Joshua Okwaci, said there was need for entire country to volunteer as ambassadors of peace and embrace togetherness at the grassroots level.


“I appreciate the organizers of this forum which is based on creating awareness on issues relevant to peace building, basically women of this country deserve to share ideas that are affecting throughout the ongoing conflict,” said Okwaci.  “It is very important to extend peace discourse to the grassroots level to pave awareness on issues related to peace building and reconciliation”. The ex-Minister of Telecommunication and Postal Services stated that women in the country must act as peace ambassadors, and preach to the nation and the world about the level of suffering inflicted on children and women. “Women have suffered enough and we don’t want this suffering to protract to our children generations. Most of the conflict-affected population is women and children and this must end,” she said. The presidential advisor stressed that each time conflict erupt, women continue to lose, sons, daughters and husbands. On his side, the Council of Churches Secretary General, Father Francis James said it is high chance for South Sudanese to silence the guns and unite together for peace, prosperity. He urged the populace to shun tribalism, segregation and adopt cohesiveness as proud South Sudanese people in one nation.


 “South Sudan needs to be reconstructed and it is all our collective responsibilities to rebuild the country. Nobody who will come from anywhere and reconstruct our country, it is you the women and youth of this great infant nation to preach peace to your children and husbands,” the clergy told the workshop.

“Man God appealed to citizens whether abroad or inside the country to avoid creating and spread hate speech on social media because the propaganda threaten social heritage of our diversities” he went on. He discouraged citizens from division along ethnic line were an Acholi fights a Dinka, Aweil against Gogrial, adding that South Sudan belong to all regardless of tribe, religion and political affiliation.

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UNDP Ready To Support Finance Ministry For Economic Recovery

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By Dach Agoth Mayen

 

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has affirmed readiness to work with the ministry of finance in order to advance the country’s economic recovery.


The Development agency official met with Minister of Finance Stephen Dhieu Dau and called for commitment to economic stabilization and sustainable development initiatives. The agency also said there is “momentum” toward progress on recovery efforts.


UNDP has been arranging international donor support for the SPLM-led South Sudanese government throughout for the nearly three year civil war through various grant-making mechanisms. It has consistently advocated that donor governments should keep funding developmental projects rather than diverting their donations into humanitarian relief.


UNDP Acting Country Director Jean-Luc Stalon revealed this week in Juba after meeting with the minister of finance and economic planning Stephen Dhieu Dau “Today’s meeting highlighted the mutual understanding between UNDP and Ministry of Finance, and the momentum at the present moment to make progress on recovery efforts in South Sudan,” he said.


The meeting came after the United Nations Security Council visited South Sudan last week and promised to cooperate with the government of President Salva Kiir. Development support will be a part of that cooperation, according to the UNDP Acting Country Director. “UNDP advocated for balanced approach of inter-related humanitarian and development responses in South Sudan, emphasizing the Ministry’s role in critical recovery and stabilization efforts,” it said in a statement.


The two also discussed the New Deal Compact, which is an agreement between conflict-affected states, international development partners and civil society to improve development policy and practice.


On his part the Minister of finance said he discussed with Mr. Stalon on the preparations needed to develop a Compact specific to South Sudan with an emphasis on strengthening state-level institutions as UNDP reiterated its commitment to working with the Ministry of Finance to support reinvigorated local economies, inclusive economic growth, and more resilient communities.

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Ivory Bank Denies Knowledge Of 5.7 Million SSP State Government Account In Rumbek Branch

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By Aurelious Simon Chopee

 

The management of Ivory Bank South Sudan has come out loud to dispute information regarding 5.7 million South Sudanese Pounds allegedly missing in state government account in its Rumbek Branch.


The Minister of Information in Western Lakes State Dut Makuet told The Nation Mirror on Tuesday that 5.7 million SSP intended for construction of state assembly in the former greater Lakes States was missing in Ivory Bank.


“The money is missing in the bank, the government has been approaching Ivory Bank to release the funds so that the money be used for its project but the bank is dodging and is not telling the truth whether the money is there or not. “There was no clear information where the money had gone to” Makuet told The Nation Mirror on phone.


The money was allegedly revealed by then Lakes States Governor Gen. Matur Chut recently.

However Ivory Bank Manager for Public and Corporate Relations Moses Mangol Mabor in a statement said the “the account in which the sum 5.7 million South Sudanese Pounds purportedly went missing is hypothetical because no specific account number was given” He said the state ministry of finance which is the custodian of state finances has only one account pertaining to Personal Income Taxes (PIT) of the staff of Ivory Bank-Rumbek Branch.


According to Ivory Bank Management, the Deputy General manager of Ivory Bank, John Buong and Coporate Relations Manager had met Abraham Makoi Bol, Governor of Western Lakes States to dispel out any suspicion and misconception of Ivory Bank Branch-Rumbek, a week before he sent a letter last July. “However, it is unfortunate and regrettable that the state government is persistently tarnishing our reputation” Mangol said in a press statement. The bank management attached a letter disputing extra account in the bank apart from the one clarified earlier.


“Sir, Reference to the letter dated 27/07/2016, subject: The lost account in Rumbek, I am hereby assuring your esteemed office that we have no any government account other than the ones we have given their statements to your end” partly reads a correspondence between the Bank Branch in Rumbek and the Governor Makoi dated August 9 2016. Adding, “When we lost any account of our customers is a great shame to our institution. 


Therefore we remain committed to delivering good services to our customers”   However, the State Minister of Information in Western Lakes State said Governor Makoi has constituted an investigation committee to find out the missing cash.

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Students Say Impossible To Receive Money In China Using South Sudan Passport

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By Garang Abraham Malak

 

South Sudanese students in China have claimed that Chinese Banks have failed to recognize their passports to receive money from any part of the due to lack of zip code recognized in Chinese database.


Atem Chol Apoith a student from China University of Petroleum told The Nation Mirror yesterday on phone that the Chinese banks have constantly halted most students from receiving money using their South Sudan passports.


“We as south Sudanese students studying in China are facing a lot of problems. We don’t know where to run for help except to ask our relative back home and all over the world to send us money which is restricted.  Right now the problems that need an immediate solution cannot be solved despite money in the bank,” Chol stressed.


Chol revealed each time student is sent money from any part of the world and if he or she goes to the bank to cash the money using his own South Sudanese passport, the student are denied access to their money.  


He said the Chinese business entities always stated to them that South Sudan does not exist in the new Chinese database.


“I urge our government to take this matter seriously and help us  (students) studying abroad by at least including the country’s code in the new Chinese database for the sake of  students prosper in China so that we can freely use our passports without restriction,” he explained.


He said using other students from other countries to cash their money is always risky.   On expiry of passports, he said. “This problem has hindered the earlier receiving of school dues for the students and that may lead one to delay in attending lectures in time since he or she will not be able to settle his or her school dues in time,” he stressed.


Chol mentioned that some students sometimes need the money urgently for urgent affairs like sickness and personal proper upkeep. He called on the government and especially the ministry of higher education to urgently address the matter with Chinese authorities in order to resolve the issue.


However, The Nation Mirror was not able to verify the information about passports and recognition of zip codes from neither the Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor the Chinese Embassy.

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FDs Commend President Kiir For Commitment To Hybrid Court

By Aleer P. David

 

The former political detainees also known as SPLM-Leaders have urged the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU) to respect the agreement they reached with United Nation Security Council Team on the deployment of 4000 protection force. In a press statement signed by ex-finance Minister Kosti Manibe seen by The Nation Mirror the SPLM leaders encouraged the government to commit itself in implementing peace agreement in accordance with the provisions enshrined in the joint Communique read by cabinet affairs Minister Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro on Sunday.


 “We cannot fail to draw attention to all concerned especially  president Salva Kiir Mayardit to the statement purporting to clarify the meaning of the joint communique issued by the TGONU and UNSC which implies that the communique does not accurately represent the essence of the discussions and what was agreed between TGONU and UNSC Mission,” read the statement.


On Sunday a 15-member United Nations Security Council team co-led by American ambassador to UN, Samantha Power and Senegalese ambassador to UN, Fode Secke reached an agreement with the government of South Sudan and drafted a joint communique outlining the three-day meeting resolution. The G10 said the government is trying to reverse what was agreed in the joint communique which reveals government’s acceptance of the UNSC resolution 2304 that entailed deployment of regional forces as part of UNMISS and removal of all hindrances to humanitarian access.  The government said the deployment of these forces was accepted in principles but negotiations are inevitable to determine the countries that will contribute the troops and the armament and mandate of the troops.


The former detainees also said a protection force for the sake of only protection is not enough to put back the country on track but a political program that provides roadmap for sustainable peace is the best.


However the group commended president Kiir for urging the African Union to speed the process of establishing Hybrid Court to end the culture of impunity.

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JMEC Resumes Operations In Juba, Urged To Unite Taban, Machar

By Roger Alfred Yoron

 

The secretariat of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission JMEC has fully resumed its mission in Juba as of Saturday 3rd September after weeks of temporary operations in Addis Ababa, the peace monitors said.


In a statement yesterday, JMEC said its chairperson Festus G Mogae remains committed to assist the transitional government of national unity to implement peace agreement.


“The JMEC Chairperson expressed his unflinching commitment to assist TGoNU in its implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan. The Chairperson also stated his plan to engage in the next few days with all major stake holders in the peace process including the leadership of TGoNU at the highest level,” the statement said. “Since its return, the Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) former President H.E. Festus G Mogae held consultations with the United Nation Security Council delegation which was on a working visit to South Sudan from the 2nd to the 5th of September 2016.”

Mogea expressed his appreciation to the UN Security Council delegation for undertaking “timely” visit to South Sudan.

 

The statement said:

“He [Mogae] underscored the importance of the visit in reassuring the government and the people of South Sudan of the partnership of the International Community in general, and the United Nations in particular, with the government and people of South Sudan, in bringing sustainable peace to the nation.


“The Chairperson briefed the delegation on his diplomatic engagements, with the IGAD Chairman, H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of South Sudan, several South Sudanese TGoNU cabinet Ministers, South Sudanese representatives to JMEC, and representatives of the International Community including UNMISS, TROIKA, EU and IGAD ambassadors.”


On his part, Onyoti Adigo Nykwec, the former leader of minority in the national parliament urges JMEC to implement the security arrangements mentioned in the peace agreement.Adigo says JMEC should prioritize making the peace process inclusive by uniting the different factions of the parties to the agreement including the SPLM Former Detainees.


“I thought the first thing which they should have done as JMEC… they should have try to put together Riek Machar and Taban Deng so that they put their house in order, so that implementation of peace agreement will be smooth,” Adigo said.


“If it is hard to unite them then there is war in the country like what is happening now. The supporters of Riek will continue fighting, and then you don’t have peace… it is a very simple equation… if we need peace, we need to involve everybody, and it is enshrined in the agreement that peace should be inclusive.”

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UN Commission Of Human Rights To Meet President Kiir

 By Roger Alfred Yoron

 

The UN Commission of Human Rights in South Sudan says it has begun a 19-day mission to South Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda to meet political and community leaders, refugees and internally displaced people, as well as members of the international community regarding the human rights situation in the country. 


“During their mission to South Sudan, the Commissioners, Yasmin Sooka, Ken Scott and Godfrey Musila, are scheduled to meet a number of ministers, parliamentarians, police, judicial officers, military officials and they have requested a meeting with President Salva Kiir. They will also conduct a number of visits to camps in Juba and Bentiu,”a statement released by UNMISS yesterday partly read.


“The Commissioners will then visit Addis Ababa, where they will meet leaders of the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) as well as other members of the international community and civil society. They will then proceed to Kampala and Adjumani in Uganda, to visit the refugee settlements there housing South Sudanese refugees.”


UN Human Rights Council in March 2016 mandated the Commissioners to monitor and report on the human rights situation in South Sudan, establish a factual basis for transitional justice and provide guidance to the Transitional Government of National Unity of South Sudan on transitional justice.  The Commission is scheduled to present a comprehensive written report to the Human Rights Council at its 34th regular session in March 2017.

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Two National Youth Union Executive Officials Resign

By Dach Agoth Mayen

 

Dr. Thomas Thiik Yak, National Youth Union Secretary for States Affairs and Dr. Achol Deng Alak, Secretary of Information, have announced their resignation from their jobs.


The duo issued a letter seen by The Nation Mirror claiming that they have resigned from the administration of the Youth Union.


The two executive members accused their President Dr. Albino Bol for harboring no vision to unite the youth.


“The sole purpose for the formation of the youth Union was to unite the Youth in the country, under your leadership, but they have become divided than before, whereas our country need peace and unity, especially among youth, I find it unnecessary to work under a leader who has no vision of uniting the youth of this country. As such it is moral obligation to distant from your dividing practice “the letter narrated.


In yet another accusation, the youth executives charge Dr. Albino of violating the constitution and threatening colleagues. “It has become your tradition to accuse members and conspired to the National Security and government any youth who disagrees with you in the manner, you are running union alone…..by misleading the government with wrong information which I believe discouraged many members to desert the Union including me” the letter added.


They further charge the youth president of using the Youth Union as a political tool to advance his interest.


Meanwhile Dr. Ayak Chol who resigned together with Dr. Thiik, explained that there was always information gap in the Union as she claimed that she was always bypassed and sidelined in as far as the information is concerned.


“I found that what is for this secretary is not consistent so I decided to withdraw from the executive” she said. However, Dr. Albino denied any knowledge of resignation by any of the officials. When The Nation Mirror contacted him on phone, he said, “I do not have any knowledge about their resignation I am hearing this from the newspaper” Last week, some of the Council Members of the Youth Union accused Dr. Albino of obstructing the meeting which they claimed did not take place since formation of the Union. 


They said Dr. Albino and Council Speaker submitted a budget to the Ministry of Youth bigger than the requirement needed for sitting of the national parliament. However Dr. Albino said the Council Meeting could not happen if youth from the states are not involved. He said the 1.5 million pounds if released could cater for accommodation of states youth delegates.    It is not clear what the new resignation could mean to the youth leadership.

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Investigators To Reveal South Sudan Stolen Money Next Monday

By Staff writer

 

International experts are set to launch on Monday the report of a two-year investigation into alleged money scandals  in South Sudan by officials and also reveal the alleged ongoing money-laundering and arms deals involving particular companies and business people around the world.


According to Media Advisory seen by The Nation Mirror, the Sentry, an investigative initiative co-founded by John Prendergast and George Clooney, will present findings of the investigation into networks of South Sudan’s senior officials and their international facilitators, “whose violent competition over corruption opportunities has turned their country into one of world’s deadliest war zones.”


The event will reveal sources of corruption in South Sudan and attempts to establish a links between massive corruption and armed conflict.


Clooney, Prendergast, Don Cheadle and members of the Sentry team are expected to discuss the findings of the investigation.


The organizers say he Sentry will release a report summarizing the results of nearly two years of following the money in South Sudan’s “shadowy war economy” and the links to an array of international facilitators and enablers, which include bankers, arms dealers, and businessmen.


It said experienced team of investigators, including former employees of the United States FBI, Treasury Department, other government agencies, intelligence communities, and Congress, as well as contributions from field researchers, country experts, academia and press, will attend the event.


The two-year investigation, according to the report, was done by expert researchers who pored through thousands of pages of legal records, corporate filings, financial statements, transaction and shipping documents, and other official correspondence; tracked suspects’ online social media footprints; and utilized satellite imagery to gather and analyze data about South Sudan’s assets and movements.


Investigators according to the Advisory, traveled to multiple locations including Melbourne, Adelaide, Addis Ababa, Kampala, Juba, Cairo and Nairobi, etc, to gather evidence and interview hundreds of experts and eyewitnesses, “many of whom spoke under the condition of anonymity”.


The Nation Mirror will follow the event online.

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Inadequate Capacity Hinders Media Authority Work To Handle Media Issues, Chairperson

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By Roger Alfred Yoron

 

Journalists thought the formation of the Media Authority would finally end their scuffle with security institutions over media related issues, but nothing changed ever since President Salva Kiir assented to the media laws and appointed officials to the media regulatory body.


President Kiir appointed nine members of the board of directors of the Media Authority last year but cases of detention of journalists by security still persist.


Ayuen Akuot Atem, a freelance journalist based in Juba said he is surprised why the body has failed to turn things around.


“When they were established… it was a hope for the media professionals but to my surprise as a journalist today, the situation has never changed. It is like we are still in the same stage whereby there is no anybody or media regulatory body that is taking care of journalists’ affairs,” Akuot told The Nation Mirror.


“We always operate in fear because there is no Media Authority or a Media Regulatory Body that will take care of us and our media houses in case of anything. So we are actually in fear and in fear of uncertainty.” The role of Media Authority according to the Act, is to regulate, develop and promote independent and professional media in South Sudan.


The Authority shall be a regulatory body for the broadcast media and transformation of government and state controlled television and radio into a public broadcasting corporation, the law says. “The Authority shall ensure that media development and press freedoms in South Sudan are consistent with Constitutional and International guarantees of freedom of expression and shall promote public interest in the media sector specifically by: … (h) amicably resolving legal complaints of defamation, incitement to violence, hate speech and invasion of privacy,” provides Section 19 (1) of the Act. 

 

Yet, the board of directors currently operates with only seven members after two, including the former chairperson Kiir Chol Deng resigned.


Some eight specialized committees and autonomous bodies including the Press and Broadcast Complaints Council, Hearings Panel, Media Appeals Board, Legal Committee, Complaints and Monitoring Committee, Broadcast and Frequency Licensing Committee, Public Affairs and Education Committee Engineering and Technical Standard Committee are required by the law for the fulfilment of the mandate of the Authority.


None of those committees and bodies have been formed. Atong Majok Kur, chairperson of the Authority told The Nation Mirror that the body has failed to deliver and form the required committees due to lack of budget.


However, she explained that, the Authority has been giving advice to the government, media houses, and security agencies with regards to the issues raised in the media law.


“There are some positive outcome of that guidance and what we always receive [from the NSS] as an answer is ‘please, the Media Authority, we shouldn’t be doing your work. Establish your office. We are just here to fill the vacuum, because we are seeing a vacuum. If you are not here to regulate, then there must be somebody who must be taking care of this until you come up,’” Majok said.


“And when they tell us that…we look at ourselves and ask: ‘where will we start from?’ The budget is not there and we don’t have money to bring in the committees [required by the law]...”


She said the Authority has failed to secure funds from agencies including UNESCO and Internews.

Earlier, some agencies promised to fund the Authority once transitional government of national unity is formed, she said.


“And we have been waiting, the transitional government is formed and we have not seen any help from them. So that was another thing. We also have inadequate capacity to respond and handle media issues,” Majok said. Oliver Modi Phillip, the Chairperson of the Union of Journalists of South Sudan UJOSS urged the Media body to fulfill their mandate defined by the law.


He said the Authority should have strategies for lobbying besides the government budget.


“The security are right that they are filling a vacuum which was created long time ago even before this media laws existed. Since the [the Media Authority] were not there, the security have to shoulder that kind of responsibility...” Modi told The Nation Mirror. “If they come to UJOSS and say they wanted something like a printing paper, I will give, even if the little, we shall share with them. That is the creativity we are talking about. If we start locally like that, then we’ll advance to other partners who have more support.” However, journalist Akuot remains skeptical about what the Media Authority will deliver. 


“…you need to reflect your skill and ability that you can be able to do the job. But if you first put up the issue of budget without doing the work, there is no guarantee… So I am still skeptical they may be given that budget and they relax the way they relax. I’m still having that skepticism,” Akuot said. “Whenever they are functioning, I expect them to handle the issues of media without the interference of other organ like the security… they should also work so that the Country will be able to know what they are doing and whether they are working for the interest of institutions that they were formed to regulate.”


 

Questionable Independence


Right groups have raised concerns that provisions of the Act which give the executive the power to appoint and dismiss members of the board of directors will compromise independence of the Media Authority.

The groups, including Article 19 adds that provisions in the Act which make the Media Authority dependent on budget and grants approved by the government, open a door for undue influence.


However, Majok insisted the Media Authority shall maintain independent regardless of how its members have been appointed. “So the fact that I am appointed, I don’t see it is contradicting with my roles, because the law was very clear that the Media Authority should be independent, should be advising the government. As long as there is something guiding me, the Act, I will not fear being removed, even if it costs me my job, that’s OK,” she added.


“Maybe if there are some articles [which are not good] in the law, the law is not there to be permanent, it can be amended, anytime. If you feel like this law is really contradicting with this, then you amend, if the majority accept that it has to be amended.”

 

Some Minimal Achievement and The Future


Majok revealed that the Media Authority has managed to acquire a rented office space which shall be launched soon. 


“…despite all the challenges that we are facing, lack of funding…we now have our office, it’s only the process of now launching it and making it operational. We have paid all the rent.  We have furnished the offices and it is all about the business community helping,” she said.


Thereafter, Majok said, the specialized committees required by the law will be formed, with the hope that the government will include the Authority in the budget currently under discussion for the financial year 2016/2017.

“If you will delay someone’s [the committees’] salary for one month, it is understandable,” Majok said explaining that the Managing Director of the Authority has been “volunteering” since his appointment four months ago.


Modi, the UJOSS chairperson urged the Authority to “as soon as possible” form the Press and Broadcast Complaints Council.


The Act says the Council shall “promote and adopt codes of ethics and guidelines for professional conduct for print and broadcast journalists.” Modi called for review and unification of the current codes of ethics being used by journalists in the Country.


“What we did [the current code] was temporarily to make sure that journalists have something to at least guide them... the Media Authority has responsibility to make sure that all these will be put right, and that’s why we need them to be really there,” said Modi, who also doubles as executive member of the Association for Media Development in South Sudan AMDISS.


He further called for replacement of the two members who have resigned from the Authority. Modi argued that challenges affecting journalists cannot wait for the Country to become stable.


“They are supposed to be opening their office. That office is rented but nobody is inside. The issues of structures and office equipment does not need to wait until the budget is out,” the UJOSS chairperson stressed.

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