South Sudan’s media regulatory body ordered the United Nations-backed radio station to suspend operations for failing to acquire a broadcasting license, which, it said, is a mandatory requirement.
CPJ’s executive director, Tito Anthony, described the decision taken by South Sudanese authorities as “unlawful” amid claims the government did not honour a status agreement signed with the UN.
“The media authority should again read the SOFA [Status of Forces Agreement] which brought Radio Miraya to existence,” said Tito.
He said the suspension of Radio Miraya by South Sudanese authorities is not only violation of the SOFA agreement, but also violated the citizens’ constitutional rights to access information.
“Radio Miraya is one of the tools in the country which is playing the role of peace building through drama and disseminates information to public,” Tito further said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
He urged the South Sudanese media authority to rescind its decision.
Last week, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a similar call for authorities to allow the UN-backed radio continue operating.
In late October 2017, South Sudan’s media regulator also suspended the Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS), but the suspension was only lifted after it applied for its operating license, CPJ said.
Over the years, CPJ said it has documented persistent government efforts to restrict journalists’ ability to operate freely in South Sudan.
Reporters without Borders ranked South Sudan 145th out of 180 countries it surveyed in its 2017 World Press Freedom Index.