The Special Representative of the Secretary General and head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Wednesday refuted claims by the government that it’s radio was being used to promote hate speech in the country.
Nicholas Haysom, head of UNMISS denied recent claim by Michael Makuei Lueth the Minister of Information, Communication, Technology and Postal Services that UN-owned Radio Miraya was fueling hate speech.
“At the moment what I found particularly, concerning was the remark by Minister Makuei who is an old friend of mine was that the radio station was being used for hate speech and that we have strongly denied and we must say there is absolutely no basis for it,” Haysom told journalists in Juba.
Makuei accused the radio of promoting hate speech in his speech last week during celebrations of the International Day to End Impunity against Journalists.
Haysom also said the radio is operating legally in the country provision under the Status of Forces Agreement signed between the government and UNMISS in the wake of independence in 2011.
“We are consciously aware that as the country heads towards election, it is very important there be demonstrable respect for freedom of expression, and we would want to encourage government to respect freedom of expression certainly as regards this issue,” he said.
Haysom said they are ongoing constructive discussion with the government over the radio.
“We are in discussion with the government on the operation of Radio Miraya, a constructive discussion that includes a discussion on modalities which will reassure all independent parties but the government included that Radio Miraya will respect the law to the expectation that it will be impartial media outlet,” he said.
In March 2018, the government threatened to shut down the radio over failure to register with the government media regulator.