David John Kumuri, Oliver Mori, Sapana Abuyi and Oyet Patrick Charles at the panel discussion on Friday. (Photo: Radio Tamazuj)

NSS promises journalists safety, freedom of expression ahead of 2024 elections

The South Sudan National Security Service (NSS) has vowed to protect journalists and grant access to information and freedom of expression to the public ahead of the December 2024 elections.

The NSS spokesperson and director of public relations, David John Kumuri, pledged during a monthly breakfast meeting organized by the Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJoSS) at Juba Crown Hotel on Friday.

The meeting brought together journalists, the NSS spokesperson, the chairperson of the Information, Communication Technology and Postal Services Committee in the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) who is also the House’s spokesperson, and the Director General for Information and Media Compliance at the Media Authority.

The meeting focused on building relations between journalists and other stakeholders like the NSS, parliament, and Media Authority among others ahead of the planned first General Elections in the country.

UJoSS Chairperson Oyet Patrick Charles said the breakfast meeting targets constitutional post holders, members of the National Security Service, and journalists to create harmonious working relationships.

“We brought the spokesperson of parliament and the spokesperson of the National Security Service to tell us some of their duties and responsibilities, what they expect from journalists, and what are the redlines for journalists as they do their work,” he said.

Kumuri highlighted that his office was keen on building mutual relationships with journalists ahead of the 2024 elections.

“We will guarantee freedom of expression and access to information to the journalists and the public,” he stated. “We need freedom of the press. The safety of journalists and everyone in the country is a mandate of the National Security Service.”

For his part, Hon. Oliver Mori, the TNLA spokesperson, advised journalists to acquaint themselves with the laws of the country.

“Journalists and every media house should get a copy of the Constitution of South Sudan so that they can report ethically,” he advised.

Meanwhile, Sapana Abuyi, the Director General for Information and Media Compliance at Media Authority emphasized that journalists should be accurate when writing news stories.

“Whatever you report as journalists, let it be accurate. Our protection for journalists is based on how you report,” he said. “As a journalist, your report is your defense. Fact is always what is required of you. The way you pronounce names is also important.”

The breakfast meeting was organized by UJOSS with support from Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA).

According to Section 13 of the National Security Act 2014, the NSS is legally mandated to protect the national interest of the country, maintain security, and protect the constitution, national social fabric, and safety of the people of South Sudan