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Activists slam journalists for biased reporting in WES

Human rights defenders in Western Equatoria state have criticized journalists for not holding state officials accountable for their excesses.

 “Men and women kill each other here but we are not hearing any report from journalists. It’s part of their job to hold accountable people in power. Do you (journalists) require permission to cover some stories?” the activists wondered.

They said journalists in Western Equatoria state are only focused on reporting on issues that portray officials in good light.

Journalists and human rights defenders traded these accusations during training organised by the Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS) and the South Sudan Human Rights Defenders’ Network (SSHRDN) and Nonviolent Peace Forces.

 25 participants comprising of journalists and members of civil society organisations in Western Equatoria attended the training on July 4 in Yambio town.

On their part, Journalists retaliated by blaming civil society for refusing to comment on sensitive issues affecting the public when contacted.

 “If a journalist contacts you to comment on the issue affecting people in the counties, you don’t want to comment. These are the things that make our relationship to be bad because you are not commenting on sensitive issues that arise in our community,” the journalists said.

Both sides agreed that all these gaps were created by restrictions on civic space.

 Journalists and human rights defenders in the state believe that the training will help improve their working relationship.

Gisma Juma, a member of South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network appreciated journalists and CSOs in Western Equatoria State for coming together.

“You are both doing the same work; if you want someone to comment on sensitive issue as please protect them. No phone call if it’s sensitive story please,” Juma said.

She appealed to both sides to collaborate closely to achieve their objectives.

 “We are not against each other; we have one objective and aspiration for South Sudan,” Juma said.

The training on conflict mitigation, rumours control and nonviolent communication strategies brought together journalists and human rights defenders to discuss issues of collaboration and cooperation to serve the public interest in the 10 counties of Weston Equatoria state.

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