01.09.2015 - UNESCO Office in Juba

UNESCO Advocates for Safety of Journalists and Freedom of Expression through training of South Sudan Security personnel

© UNESCO / Police officers and Guests

Juba, 31.08.15: UNESCO Juba office has supported the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) to train 20 commissioned Police Officers drawn from the levels of majors, captains, colonels, lieutenants and sergeants in the police academy, police training unit and police college as Trainers of Trainers. The three day training that took place from 19th to 21st July 2015 drew its curriculum from the UNESCO Security Forces Training Manual and delved on international conventions and covenants on civil and political rights that include freedom of expression, press freedom and access to information. Other topics covered included media laws, state obligation on safety of journalists and protection of journalists, the UN Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the issue of impunity and good practices of fostering better relationship between the media, security personnel and the government.

This timely training comes in the backdrop of increased cases of crimes committed against journalists and media houses in South Sudan and the killing of seven journalists in 2015. Maj. James Dak, one of the police officers who participated in the 3-day training of trainers workshop, concurred with this and said “through this training workshop, we have learnt how serious crimes committed against journalists are happening in our communities and societies and its upon such grounds that we seek to improve our relationship with the Journalists and other media workers”. He further emphasized by saying “I want to assure the AMDISS Chairperson, UJOSS chairperson and UNESCO, that such behaviour will not be allowed to happen”. Speaking on behalf of the Director of Training and Human Resources Development in South Sudan Police Unit, Brig. Joseph Manding pointed out that the police have an important role to play in protecting and preventing crimes against journalists. He further called on police officers to respect human rights and practice equity and stressed that “there is a link between the police and the information sector, and that the media and police need to work together”.

 

UNESCO considers capacity building of the security personnel of great importance because in many countries, the relationship between the law enforcers and journalists/media workers is often bad and limits access to information, hence the freedom of expression by journalists. In most cases, law enforcers are not familiar or do not understand the role and contribution of the media and journalists in development of the country and more often, the training undertaken by security forces has not incorporated human rights aspects on freedom of expression and safety of a journalists. This has led to high levels of media censorship, increased self-censorship by the journalists and too many crimes committed against journalists world all over, including loss of lives.

While attending the launch of the three day training, Alfred Taban, the Chairperson for the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) and the co-chair of the South Sudan Media Sector Working Group (SSMSWG) applauded the timing of this training and said, “this training came just at the right time when journalists and security personnel need each other and also need to work together”. He went on further to emphasise to the police forces on the important role played by the media and the journalists, emphasising that “journalists need you and you need the journalists and all the reason as to why other security arms, judges and lawyers will be targeted in future trainings with support from the media partners and donors”.

During the closing ceremony of the three day training of trainers, Mr. Salah Khaled the UNESCO Representative to South Sudan, asked the Twenty trained police officers to ensure the knowledge gained is shared with the rest of the security forces throughout the country. He also called on the journalists to work within the context of the media laws, abide by the media ethics, uphold professionalism and also avoid hate speech that could polarise the country further. In his closing remarks, the chairperson of Community Empowerment for Progress Organizations Mr. Edmund Yakani said that this training started as a dream and this dream has come true, with the help of UNESCO and SIDA. He called on the Director of Police Training to include modules on human rights in particular safety of journalists and freedom of expression into the South Sudan Police training curriculum as a way of making concerns on freedom of expression become part and parcel of their training.

This activity is supported by UNESCO and made possible with the generous financial support from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) within the framework of UNESCO’s mandate to promote freedom of expression and ensure it plays a key role in empowering populations through facilitating dialogues, participation and democracy and thereby makes sustainable development possible in member states.

 

 

For further information

Lydia Gachungi, Communication and Information Specialist, UNESCO Juba.

Tel. +211911066002, +254722803724

 Email: l.gachungi(at)unesco.org

www.unesco.org/new/en/juba/home

 

 




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