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UNESCO calls for empowerment of media to serve public interest

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have called for empowerment of community radios and public broadcasters to enable them serve the public efficiently.

“We must empower community radios throughout 10 states and 3 administrative areas, we also need to empower state broadcasters like in Wau, Yambio, and Rumbek and transform them into real public broadcasters of public interest,” Julius Banda, Country Representative for UNESCO said on Tuesday.

He was speaking to journalists during the opening of a two-day workshop on freedom of expression and access to information at Palm Africa Hotel in Juba.

 “We welcome the recent political consensus, particularly the concern to arrest without warrant, I hope going forward the county wiil consolidate on freedom of expression, freedom of movement and freedom of association, you cannot disassociate these freedoms,” Banda said.

The government recently revoked the powers of the national security services (NSS) to arrest without warrant.

Moyiga Andru, the Commissioner for Access to Information Commission said without free flow of information managing public affairs will be difficult.

“Both freedom of expression and access to information are important in the modern world, without them it is hard to spread knowledge to meet the need and desires of individuals, farmers, traders, scholars, politicians as well as consumers,” Andru said.

 He emphasized the importance of upholding principles of freedom of expression and access to information to avoid hate speech and other vices that might corrupt children and young people.  

Tanaka Hiroyuki, Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in South Sudan, said freedom of media is key to conduct free and fair election.

He added that it is also necessary to expand civic space for the general public.

“Guaranteeing freedom of media and access to information is key to conduct free and fair election as important as other factors such as census and constitution making,” Tanaka said.

 “in addition, before election the permanent constitution needs to be prepared, it is necessary to expand the civic space the place where people can express and exchange their views and the role of media professionals in ensuring the civic space is essential,” he added.

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