Text of media ‘law’ still kept secret by S Sudan govt
South Sudan’s Media Authority Act is yet to be published or distributed to the press, in spite of assurances by Presidential Press Secretary Ateny Wek that a copy of the law would be shared with media representatives by 15 September.
The bill is said to have become an act of law by signature of the president last week, but media were neither invited to attend a signing ceremony nor shown a copy of the signed bill.
Presidential Press Secretary Ateny Wek gave conflicting statements on 9 September as to whether the law was considered to be in force or not, given that the contents of the law remain unknown to the public.
The version of the bill as passed by parliament was never made public, though drafts from last year are held by the Association for Media Development of South Sudan (AMDISS).
Media representatives planned to gather this week to examine and discuss the contents of the new bill. However, when they gathered at the premises of AMDISS yesterday, it was announced that the text of the law is still not distributed.
MP Thomas Kundu, who addressed the media representatives on the occasion, stated that the Ministry of Justice would be responsible for publishing the text of the bill, saying this would happen before one month.
This revises the date set by Presidential Ateny Wek, who said last week the law would be given to the press this week.
Some media representatives have speculated that the bill may have been changed in parliament from the draft version initially shown to the press, or even after its passage by parliament during a period in which the approved bill was ‘lost.’
Speaking at a press event on 9 September, AMDISS executive member Jacob Akol said, “I’m delighted to hear that what has been actually been signed by the president has not got much change to it. That even when the laws have been lost, in your office and in the assembly, nobody has actually tampered with them.”
“But excuse me for us being skeptical, but we will need to see these laws,” he said.
“We will need to have what we call a ‘post-mortem’ after they have been passed and after that we will come up with the verdict…” said Akol.
Two other pieces of legislation the president is said to have signed into law alongside the Media Authority act - the Broadcast Corporation Act and Access to Information Act - likewise remain unpublished.
File photo: Salva Kiir
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