South Sudan is moving closer to end stringent restrictions to access on information which have for years earned the youngest nation unwanted reputation for being among the worst performing countries on media freedoms globally.
“As the Commission for Access to Information, we are also working to strengthen the institutions so as to play their role to promote access to information in the Republic of South Sudan,” Moyiga Nduru Korokoto, the Commissioner for Access to Information Commission said in Juba on Wednesday.
Nduru was speaking during a symposium to celebrate International Day for Access to Information.
The United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) are celebrating the 2022 International Day for Universal Access to Information under the “Theme artificial intelligence, access to information and e-government”.
“Accessing information remains a challenge globally, the international day for universal access to information continues to remind us year- after -year that everyone has a right to seek, receive and impart information,” Nduru said.
Nduru said that this year’s celebration on October 1, 2022 in Amadi area of Western Equatoria state.
He added that on the eve of the celebrations in Amadi, a local radio station supported by UNESCO will be formally opened and handed over to the community.
Majak Daniel, the Secretary General for Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS) said access to information is crucial for achieving sustainable development goals.
“Access to information is important for achieving sustainable development goals, the institutions need to be empowered by both partners and government for them to operate effectively,” Daniel said.
He disclosed that access to information in South Sudan continues to be restricted by security agencies, adding that these arbitrary arrests of journalists need to end.
“We need to promote maximum disclosure of information in the public interest,” Daniel said.
In addition, Tap Pant Raj, UNESCO Education Specialist urged stakeholders to continue implementation of constitutional, and policy guarantees for access to information and for State institutions and regulators to do their utmost to balance the right to privacy and the right to information when there is a potential conflict between them.
Tap Raj also called on for public information to be availed in national languages and in a diversity of accessible formats with use of accessible technologies.
For his part, Samuel Doe, UNDP Country Representative called on journalists and media managers to always convey accurate, factual and well researched information to the public with the aim to curb misinformation, while at the same time using the media to promote peace, reconciliation and social cohesion and sustainable development.