South Sudan blocks at least 20 international journalists — FCAEA Statement

NAIROBI, KENYA — 9th June 2017

The Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA) calls on the Government of South Sudan and its Media Authority to immediately stop blocking professional and experienced international journalists from working in the country.

Over the past six months, according to information gathered by the FCAEA, the authorities in South Sudan have banned or barred at least twenty established and reputable members of the international press from reporting in the country. Most of those barred are also members of the FCAEA.

The affected journalists are experienced professionals, nearly all of whom have previously had bylined work on South Sudan published or broadcast internationally. The majority have covered East Africa for years and as such are some of those best placed to report with authority on the situation in the country.

The FCAEA strongly rejects comments made this week by the head of South Sudan’s Media Authority Elijah Alier and quoted in local media, in which he accused the blocked journalists of disseminating “unsubstantiated and unrealistic stories” that incite violence and hate.

The FCAEA expects the highest standards of journalistic ethics from its members, and stands by the professionalism of their reporting.

Journalists of at least ten different nationalities have been barred from reporting on South Sudan over the past six months — this group includes print reporters, photographers and camera operators. Staff members from some of the world’s leading news organisations, as well as freelancers, are among those affected. The majority report in the English language.

Some have had their applications for media accreditation rejected, others have had visas or applications for a renewal of accreditation refused. In a handful of cases, reporters were deported, or felt they were given little choice but to leave the country immediately.

Other international journalists continue to be accredited to report from South Sudan, and a handful of these are based in Juba.

Over the past six months, the FCAEA has made efforts to engage the senior leadership of relevant agencies in the Government of South Sudan on the issue, as well as engage donors, humanitarian organisations and other stakeholders.

In April, the FCAEA wrote to South Sudan’s Media Authority asking them to provide detailed written guidelines for the accreditation of foreign media, the criteria for acceptance or rejection, and the process for appeal. The Media Authority has not responded to this enquiry.

The blocking of these international journalists has coincided with a deterioration in security in the country, as well as the declaration of famine and the largest refugee crisis in Africa, all issues of global concern.

The FCAEA urges the international community to continue prioritising media freedom and access in South Sudan – for international journalists and South Sudanese colleagues, many of whom face horrifying work conditions and threats to their security.

Note to press: The FCAEA is the largest foreign correspondents’ association in Africa, representing the interests of some 500 journalists and media professionals based in East Africa and beyond. It is headquartered in Nairobi and registered under Kenyan law.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact FCAEA Board member Matina Stevis on matinas@gmail.com.

ENDS

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