South Sudan needs a specific Social Media Law: A remedy to social media madness

Posted: May 10, 2019 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

”You have freedom of speech but freedom after speech is not guaranteed”. ~ Idi Amin Dada

By Bol Chol Kucdit, Juba, South Sudan

PaanLuel Wel website, along with Sudan Tribune, Radio Tamazuj and Nyamilepedia, has been blocked in South Sudan by the national security

Friday, May 10, 2019 (PW) — Former President of Uganda, Idi Amin Dada was called ruthless dictator but he had a lot to be admired. I would like to borrow his statement to relate it to South Sudanese madness on social media and other media outlets. It has been observed that African especially South Sudanese are always taking thinks excessively; they always overdo everything. They don’t analyse the disadvantage(s) of excess of everything.

You can easily testify to this fact through the way some people subscribe to tribalism; the way they subscribe to European football fanning and the way they subscribe to politico-gossiping business. They are also taking excessively the alcohol (Makoyo) even young men in the cattle camps; many fall in love dearly with (Shisha smoking) without age limit.

Therefore, in the light of the foregoing title, social media, print media and broadcasting media are highly abused in South Sudan. Some people created pseudo names and accounts on Facebook and other social media forums to attack other people and caused confusion for no reason. Our people need prayers to understand the limit of all the rights enshrined in the Transitional constitution, 2011 as amended and other laws in force.

In international human rights law perspective, every human being has rights and freedoms to enjoy everything but these rights and freedoms end where other people’s rights begin. We should be informed that in every right, there is a corresponding duty. The international human rights law, which is replicated as bill of rights in our Transitional Constitution, provides that each and every individual mankind should enjoy his/her right in respect to other people rights.

You have right to speech but you have no right to defame other person’s dignity; you have freedom of press or media but you have no freedom to incite violence and hatred among communities or tribes. You have freedom of movement but you don’t have freedom to trespass somebody’s land. You have right to shout but you don’t have right to make noise and the list is long.

In my personal view, social media coupled with lack of civilization and good education contribute extensively to tribalism and hatred in South Sudan. It is indeed the main instrument of breaching public peace and tranquillity in this beloved country. It was alleged in the 2016 ‘dog fight’ war of J1 that it was the online coordination through false information that culminated to such disaster.

For the last few days it has cropped up from nowhere that people shall go on street on 16th of May 2019 to call for the change of the government. The way it appears seems to be social media propaganda because many South Sudanese are waiting for the implementation of R-ARCSS that has just been extended by six months.

The current call at opposite end begs many questions as to the idea behind Riek Machar’s proposed extension of the formation of the government, which was later, accepted for the sake of peace. This could be wishful thinking from Red Card Movement and its godfather!

In the context of our media laws, the Media Authority Act, 2013 provides for the establishment of media authority body to be responsible for all the media issues including social media but it did not address how online crimes shall be punished like social media war of 2016. Our Penal code Act, 2008 does not specifically deal with social media crimes.

It is not even clear how to sue Facebook, Twitter, Skype and WhatsApp companies for defamation since they are second dependant in any defamatory case; it is not defined how to bring to book an abettor of war on social media in South Sudan.

If my memory is correct, I could remember in 2017 that Ethiopian High court sentenced to death an accused that posted public inciting statement on his Facebook wall that later cost the lives of many people. It is in the view of this author that our country needs a specific social media law to control this madness.

I am appealing to ministry of Information and Broadcasting Cooperation to propose the specific Social media bill and forward it to council of ministers through Ministry of Justice for consideration and subsequent tabling before parliament for deliberation.

The author, Bol Chol Kucdit, is a holder of law degree (LLB), University of Juba, School of law, 2013. He is currently a candidate in General Master of laws (LLM), majoring in international refugee law, University of Juba, school of law. He is also a part time lecturer in School of Law, University of Juba as well as a practicing Advocate before all courts in South Sudan, Juba. He specialized in the areas of constitutional law, public international law, international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and international refugee law, among many others. He can be reached via his email address: bol mutaram2 <bolmutaram2@gmail.com>

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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