05.05.2006 -

Journalists Roundtable to mark World Press Freedom Day in Sudan

In marking this year's World Press Freedom Day, UNESCO Outpost in Juba, with backstopping from Nairobi and Paris Office, supported the Union of journalists of Southern Sudan in organizing a roundtable bringing together journalists from media houses around Juba.

More than twenty journalists were in attendance. The forum gave journalists an opportunity to reflect and deliberate on this year's World Press Freedom Day theme: Media, Development and Poverty Eradication. This is the first time that Southern Sudan is celebrating the World Press Freedom Day.


The panel was composed of the chairman of the Journalists Union of Southern Sudan, Isaac Vuni, the chairperson of the organizing committee, Chiara Dezzi Bardeschi, UNESCO liaison officer in Juba, Antonnette Miday, UNDP communication officer, and Wilson Ugangu, UNESCO resource person from Nairobi, who facilitated the session.


The forum further provided opportunity for critical reflection on questions and responsibilities that journalists need to carry in promoting press freedom and development in society. The UNESCO representative gave an introduction on the World press Freedom Day, emphasizing UNESCO's commitment to freedom of the press and freedom of information as fundamental human rights that should be protected at all times. She spoke of the need for more access to information by the citizenry if a democratic culture has to be realised, and the fundamental role of media in promoting other rights, such as education and culture.


Poverty eradication goes beyond material and economic empowerment. It also involves enabling the citizenry to participate in development and good governance processes through availing relevant and useful information. A free media can adequately serve this role. UNDP representative David Gedion, highlighted the media's role in fighting poverty within the framework of the UN Millennium Development Goals.


In committing to moving forward the spirit of this year's press freedom day within the framework of Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), Southern Sudanese journalists identified several actions to follow through. Among several issues, key was the need for frequent editors meetings in which concerns affecting society can be discussed and strategies for proactively representing them in the media addressed. The need for the establishment of professional networks and partnerships as a way of providing opportunities for learning and professional development was also identified.


The promotion of local languages in media programming and development of community media, to reach a wide audience, as well as photojournalists were felt as an essential base for contributing to the fight against poverty and enhancing participatory and critical democratic society.


The roundtable has been recorded and filmed by local media.

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