T.O.T Training for police officers on freedom of expression, access to information and safety of Journalists



JUBA, September 26, 2023 – The National Press Club South Sudan (NPC-SS) successfully conducted a two-day Training of Trainers (T.O.T.) workshop in Juba with the aim of equipping law enforcement agencies with essential knowledge to promote freedom of expression, enhance communication with the media, and ensure the safety of journalists.

The workshop, supported by UNESCO, brought together key stakeholders to address the growing concerns surrounding clashes between journalists and security forces. During the opening session, several notable figures delivered remarks that shed light on the significance of the workshop, which aims to foster good working relationship between the security officers and the journalists.
The Commissioner of the Access to Information Commission, Hon. Moyiga Nduru Korokoto, who was the Guest of Honor, emphasised the complementary roles of journalists and police in society. He acknowledged that both professions seek the truth, educate, and guide society, despite occasional mistakes they make while pursuing their respective duties. He underscored the importance of the police facilitating journalists’ access to information, especially during the upcoming election period.
NPC-SS Chairperson, Bullen Kenyi Yatta, expressed gratitude to the organizers and the fundraisers, UNESCO and NPA, recognizing the workshop’s relevance in the South Sudanese context.
He stressed that the safety of journalists and freedom of expression had become global concerns as conflicts between journalists and security forces often arise.
He emphasized the need for law enforcers and journalists to understand their respective roles and responsibilities, citing the lack of accountability for the actions of the perpetrators.
Julius Banda, the Country Director of UNESCO, drew attention of the participants to the presence of freedom of expression in the interim constitution of South Sudan. He emphasized the role of the police in guaranteeing freedom of expression, stating that UNESCO works closely with law enforcement agencies to create an enabling environment for the exercise of this fundamental right.
The workshop also addressed three key responsibilities of the police. Firstly, it emphasized the duty of the police to protect journalists from arbitrary arrests and harassment, with impunity. Secondly, it highlighted the importance of building trust and fostering a collaborative relationship between the security forces and journalists.
The Country Director of UNESCO, Mr. Julius Banda, emphasized that freedom of expression was crucial for development, citing the need to promote democratic governance in South Sudan.
Juma Peter, the representative of AMDISS, outlined the organization’s role in developing the media landscape in South Sudan. He highlighted the importance of an independent media in reducing overreliance on the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC), particularly in the upcoming elections.
Mr. Peter emphasized the need for a holistic relationship between the police and journalists, urging the police to intervene if a journalist was mistreated by any of the organized forces. He acknowledged the valuable advice provided by NPC-SS on handling cases involving arrested colleagues.
Isaac Ladia, the representative of the UNMISS human rights division, emphasized the fundamental rights necessary for human dignity, such as food, medication, and shelter. He underscored the essential role of freedom of speech in promoting accountability and driving positive change.
The UNMISS representative, Isaac Ladia, quoted Coffi Annan, as saying, “We cannot build peace without alleviating poverty. We cannot build freedom on the foundation of impunity.”
He highlighted the influential role of the media, as their reports initiate discussions at higher levels and bring about necessary improvements.
Brig, James Dak, Deputy Police Spokesperson, described the media as the fourth arm of the government, acting as a check and balance to the executive, legislature, and judiciary.
He assured that no journalist was currently behind bars and noted that the president had amended the law to prevent national security arrests without a warrant.
Brig. James Dak emphasised the need for a strong bond between the police and the media, urging journalists to exercise discretion when handling confidential information.
Mr. Ochaya James, the Executive Director of NPC, highlighted the primary objective of the workshop, which was to empower trainers to deliver comprehensive courses on these critical topics at a national level.
The workshop also sought to improve the curricula of law enforcement training institutes by incorporating new modules or courses. Mr. James emphasised the importance of developing a ‘Training of Trainers’ program for current and future law enforcement officers.
The collaborative effort between the National Press Club South Sudan, law enforcement agencies, and UNESCO aims to enhance professionalism and strengthen the relationship between the media and the police in South Sudan, ultimately fostering an environment that upholds freedom of expression and ensures the safety of journalists.
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