An existing ban on foreign journalists, introduced by South Sudan Media Authority, has been lifted by the country’s media regulatory body.
20 foreign journalists had been banned from entering the country after the Media Authority had condemned them for showing a “lack of respect” to the country.
Now that the ban has been suspended, it means that the selected journalists will be free to enter and to provide coverage on South Sudan.
Alfred Taban, Head of Information, Steering Committee for National Dialogue, made the disclosure on Thursday in Juba during a meeting with diplomats and UN envoys.
In a statement, he said that the leadership of the Media Authority had decided to allow unhindered media coverage of the currently war-torn country. Adding that the authorities had agreed to relax restrictions placed on foreign journalists to allow them to cover the ongoing national dialogue, the humanitarian crisis and issues of concern to the public.
Taban, who also heads the association for Media Development in South Sudan, said the media authority had pledged to ease conditions for acquiring media accreditation permits.
“I took up the issue of banning foreign journalists from the country with the Media Authority and they promised me that the [ban] has been suspended.
“So now if somebody wants to come, there will be no question of the person being denied visa because that has been cleared.
“The South Sudan Media Authority recently said it had banned at least 20 foreign journalists from media coverage in the country for what it termed “unsubstantiated and unrealistic stories,” Taban said.
He said the media regulatory body however did not name the journalists or media outlets affected by the ban. The initial ban had attracted wide-criticism from the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) and many others.
However, Elija Alier, Managing Director, SSMA denied imposing ban on foreign journalists entering South Sudan. He said the body would continue to ease entry and work permit for foreign media in the East African nation.
“We have never stopped foreign journalists from coming to South Sudan and they will continue coming. “As media authority, we will continue giving them permits,” Alier told DW.