South Sudan: national consultative meeting to improve draft freedom of expression laws
With the support of UNESCO, the Association of Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) in collaboration with Article 19-Eastern Africa held a two-day consultative meeting on freedom of expression draft laws in Juba on 24 and 25 September 2012. This meeting brought together over 50 representatives of journalists, media organizations, governments, civil society organizations, diplomatic missions and development partners. Representatives of the UNESCO Juba Office also attended the meeting.
The meeting follows a consultative process in the development of the laws: the Right to Information Bill 2012, the Broadcasting Corporation Bill 2012 and the Media Authority Bill 2012. It aimed to enhance the level of participation and engagement of multiple stakeholders to help entrench freedoms of information and expression in the legislative framework of South Sudan.
“The elaboration of a system of regulation conducive to freedom of expression should be inclusive, involving parliament, government institutions and professional institutions in the drafting and adoption of these laws,” said Jaco du Toit, UNESCO Advisor for Communication and Information at the UNESCO Regional Office in Nairobi.
The draft Right to Access Information Bill No. 54 is widely-seen as a positive step towards the effective protection of the right to freedom of information in South Sudan. An analysis of the draft by Article 19 highlights how aspects of it could be further improved and brought in compliance with international legal standards in this area. The consultative meeting is the first of a series of necessary meetings on the three laws.
A favourable dispensation of a system of regulation conducive to freedom of expression, pluralism and diversity of the media is an essential basis for media development, in terms of the criteria of the UNESCO Media Development Indicators.
The objective should be a sustainable quantity and quality of media enterprises that contribute to the challenges facing a given country.
UNESCO encourages and provides support to governments to develop legislative instruments that defend freedom of expression, press freedom and freedom of information as basic human rights.
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