In Support of Good Media Laws in South Sudan

"We are confident that they will not just look at these recommendations and forget about them, otherwise this exercise we are involved in today, tomorrow and the following day would turn out to be just an attempt to whitewash what will turn out to be, after all our efforts, Bad Media Laws.

 

In Support of Good Media Laws in South Sudan 

Presented

By Jacob J. Akol

(Chairman, AMDISS)*

At a Public Hearing on Media Bills

 

                                        1st November 2012, Juba, South Sudan.

 

Your Excellences the Ministers, Honourable Members of Parliament, Honourable Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Public:

  1. The Media Bills we will be discussing today and the next two days originated from AMDISS, with Local and International Partners
  2. They Started with the Rumbek Declaration of Principles in 2005
  3. They have been revised and re-revised over the period.
  4. They have been presented to the Council of Ministers three times and
  5. They have been presented to the National Assembly twice.

This underlines the fact that these media bills are not just about the media and liberties promised by our Constitution, they are also very much about:

  1. Accountability
  2. Transparency and
  3. Good Governance

The three bills are the:

1.        Media Authority Bill

2.       Right of Access to Information Bill and

3.       Broadcasting Corporation Bill

These bills have the potential to become Good Media Laws , But, they also have the potential to become Bad Media Laws

What are Good Media Laws? Good media laws enable the media to serve the public effectively by providing them with: 

1.    Unbiased Information

2.     Unbiased Education and

3.     Unbiased Entertainment

Bad Media Laws do exactly the opposite:

They direct the media to serve the public with:

1.    Biased Information

2.     Biased Education and

3.    Biased Entertainment

To   To ascertain whether South Sudan will end up with Good or Bad Media Laws,

One must look at the institutions to be set up to guide these laws in serving the public effectively. The key ones are: 

1.     The Media Authority Board and

2.     The Information Commission

Ask yourself the following questions:

1.     How are the members of these bodies selected?

2.     To whom are they responsible?

3.     How are they appointed or dismissed?

4.     How are they funded?

5.     How independent or guaranteed is the funding for these bodies?

6.     What are their powers?

7.     What are the limitations to their powers

If your answers to these questions give Priority to the Public, you are likely to have Good Media Laws.

If your answers tend to give priority to the Government of the Day, you are likely to have Bad Media Laws.

AMDISS, assisted by development Partners, local, regional and international lawyers, have used these criteria to look at the three media laws.

As a result, we have come up with recommendations for amendments to all the three media bills.

These recommendations have been handed over to Hon Joy Kwaje and her team and you should receive them today.

We are confident that they will not just look at these recommendations and forget about them, otherwise this exercise we are involved in today, tomorrow and the following day would turn out to be just an attempt to whitewash what will turn out to be, after all our efforts, Bad Media Laws. I hope not!

Thank you very much.

J. J. Akol

(ADISS*: Association for Media Development in South Sudan)

 

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