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ARTICLE 19 identifies areas for improvement in southern Sudan draft media legislation

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is a 4 July 2008 ARTICLE 19 press release:

Sudan: ARTICLE 19 Recommends Changes to South Sudan Draft Media Legislation

ARTICLE 19 today released its analysis of the revised package of draft Media Bills proposed for Southern Sudan, of which there are four media Bills. ARTICLE 19 welcomes the draft Bills which largely conform to international standards, but has identified areas for further improvement to the drafts.

ARTICLE 19 has been working closely with the Ministry for Information and Broadcasting for the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) and wider Southern Sudanese civil society for the development and revision of the South Sudanese draft media legislation: the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Organisation (MoIBO) Bill, Southern Sudan Public Service Broadcasting (SSPSB) Bill, the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IAB) Bill and the Right to Information (RTI) Bill.

One of the major shortfalls of all four draft Bills is the lack of a preamble or set of guiding principles situating each draft Bill within the broader framework of international human rights law applicable to South Sudan, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa.

ARTICLE 19 Executive Director, Dr. Agnes Callamard stated, "While we welcome the draft media legislation there is a need for guiding principles in the drafts, which reflect a commitment to respect international and regional instruments protecting freedom of expression rights to which Sudan is a party to."

In the analysis ARTICLE 19 makes recommendations for improvement of the draft Bills which include amendment of the MoIBO Bill removing its right to exercise regulatory powers over broadcasting. ARTICLE 19 also urges that the SSPSB Bill and IBA Bill clarify the independence from the State of the Southern Sudanese Public Service Broadcaster and Independent Broadcasting Authority, respectively.

This analysis is a part of a consortium project 'Promoting Freedom of Expression and Civil Society Involvement in Developing Democratic Media Legislation in Sudan' involving ARTICLE 19 and its partners: International Media Support, Norwegian People's Aid, Olof Palme International Center, the Khartoum Centre for Human Rights and Environmental Development, and the Association for Media Development in South Sudan.

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