South Sudanese authorities should allow the UN-backed station Radio Miraya to continue broadcasting, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The South Sudanese Media Regulatory Authority ordered Radio Miraya to suspend operations because the station had not acquired a broadcasting license, according to a copy of the suspension notice seen by CPJ and a report by the Dutch-backed Radio Tamazuj news outlet.
In the letter, the media authority, which oversees the press, requested that South Sudan’s National Communication Authority “withdraw the frequency 101 FM,” that was allocated to Radio Miraya. Additionally, the media authority cited Radio Miraya’s “persistent non-compliance and refusal to be regulated” under South Sudan’s 2013 Media Authority Act as the reason for the station’s suspension.
A spokesperson for the South Sudan UN mission (UNMISS), Francisca Mold, told CPJ that Radio Miraya has not stopped broadcasting.
“South Sudanese authorities must ensure Radio Miraya is permitted to operate unhindered,” CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney said. “Journalists in South Sudan are too often faced with bureaucratic red tape or other tactics of government intimidation, which are incompatible with efforts to create conditions for sustaining peace.”
Mold told CPJ that the UN is “in discussion with the government.”
Radio Miraya broadcasts information about UN activities and political programs meant to foster peace in South Sudan, according to a Reuters report.
In late October 2017, South Sudan’s media regulator suspended the Union of Journalists of South Sudan, a press association, until it applied for its operating license, according to CPJ research. The union resumed operation after the media authority approved its licensing application, according to media reports, and Sapana Abuyi, director general for information and media compliance of the South Sudanese Media Regulatory Authority.
CPJ has documented persistent government efforts to restrict journalists’ ability to operate freely in South Sudan.