SOUTH SUDAN / FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

22-Feb-2018 00:03:22
A new UN report on freedom of opinion and expression in South Sudan has revealed that restrictions are having a “chilling effect” and “further shrinking the space for debate and dissent”. UNMISS
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STORY: SOUTH SUDAN / FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
TRT: 03:22
SOURCE: UNMISS
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGES: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 22 FEBRUARY 2018, JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN / 07 FEBRUARY 2018, YAMBIO, SOUTH SUDAN / 03 FEBRUARY 2018, ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA
SHOTLIST
07 FEBRUARY 2018, YAMBIO, SOUTH SUDAN

1. Various shots, release of children associated with arm conflict

22 FEBRUARY 2018, JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN

2. SOUNDBITE (English) Eugene Nindorera, UNMISS Human Rights Director:
“This is why it’s important, first of all, to have the ceasefire because when you are in a situation of insecurity when people are fighting on a daily basis nobody will go there, nobody will share their views, nobody will even raise your voice in this meeting, because you will be afraid.”
3. Various shots, Human Rights report document and press conference
4. Various shots, jounalists
5. SOUNDBITE (English) David Shearer, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, UNMISS:
“It is vital that the voices of all the people of South Sudan are heard so that genuine, inclusive and durable peace can be achieved. All parties to the conflict must respect people’s right to freedom of expression regardless of their ethnicity, beliefs or political views.”
6. Various shots, local newspaper
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Eugene Nindorera, UNMISS Human Rights Director:
“Unfortunately hate speech is a reality in South Sudan. Inflammatory language and hate speech continues to target individuals and communities based on their ethnicity, perceived beliefs or political views. Government institutions and actors have often invoked hate speech as the basis for imposing restrictions such as censorship of newspaper articles critical of the Government that did not appear to meet the threshold of incitement to violence, hostility or discrimination.”

03 FEBRUARY 2018, ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA

8. Various shot, High Level Revitalization Forum in Addis Ababa

22 FEBRUARY 2018, JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN

9. SOUNDBITE (English) David Shearer, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, UNMISS:
“We accept that these are extraordinary circumstances in South Sudan but, at the same time, if we are looking to foster peace and the ability for people to be involved in a free and democratic society then freedom of expression has to be at the cornerstone of that.”
10. Various shots, press conference
STORYLINE
Journalists were able to freely report on the recent release of hundreds of child soldiers in Yambio given the event was sponsored by the United Nations and sanctioned by the Government in South Sudan.

But their freedom to cover many other stories is not guaranteed, with journalists regularly experiencing censorship, harassment, and threats to their life as they report on the conflict that has raged across the country for almost five years.

SOUNDBITE (English) Eugene Nindorera, UNMISS Human Rights Director:
“This is why it’s important, first of all, to have the ceasefire because when you are in a situation of insecurity when people are fighting on a daily basis nobody will go there, nobody will share their views, even to raise your question in this meeting, you will be afraid.”

A new UN report on freedom of opinion and expression has revealed that restrictions are having a “chilling effect” and “further shrinking the space for debate and dissent”.

It identifies 60 verified incidents which violate the legitimate right to freedom of expression of 102 victims, including 17 women, from July 2016 to December 2017.

This includes the killing of two people, the arbitrary arrest and detention of 58 others, 16 people dismissed from their jobs, the closure or suspension of media houses, censorship of newspaper articles and the blocking of websites.

SOUNDBITE (English) David Shearer, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, UNMISS:
“It is vital that the voices of all the people of South Sudan are heard so that genuine, inclusive and durable peace can be achieved. All parties to the conflict must respect people’s right to freedom of expression regardless of their ethnicity, beliefs or political views.”

The report found that Government security forces were responsible for two-thirds of the cases, including the National Security Service which has broad powers of surveillance, arrest and detention and embeds officers in some newspaper printing houses.

There are ongoing incidents of hate speech but also examples of claims of hate speech being used as an excuse to censor free speech.

SOUNDBITE (English) Eugene Nindorera, UNMISS Human Rights Director:
“Unfortunately hate speech is a reality in South Sudan. Inflammatory language and hate speech continues to target individuals and communities based on their ethnicity, perceived beliefs or political views. Government institutions and actors have often invoked hate speech as the basis for imposing restrictions such as censorship of newspaper articles critical of the Government that did not appear to meet the threshold of incitement to violence, hostility or discrimination.”

Reconciliation processes are underway internally and locally. Given the importance of these peace initiatives, it is vital that civil society actors, journalists and others can operate freely.

SOUNDBITE (English) David Shearer, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, UNMISS:
"We accept that these are extraordinary circumstances in South Sudan but, at the same time, if we are looking to foster peace and the ability for people to be involved in a free and democratic society then freedom of expression at the cornerstone of that.”

The report makes a number of recommendations, including to decriminalize defamation, ensure security forces do not infringe on the legitimate right to freedom of expression and that mechanisms to combat hate speech are strengthened.

It also calls on all armed forces to guarantee the protection of journalists, civil society, and human rights defenders and respect their right to monitor and report on the conflict.
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