NAIROBI (Reuters) – South Sudan’s media regulator has suspended all press associations in the country while they register for licences to operate, journalists said, a move that raised concern about a possible crackdown on independent media.
The directive, handed to South Sudan’s three associations this week and seen by Reuters on Wednesday, gave them seven days until Nov. 7 to obtain operations licences or face permanent closure.
“This is … harassment from the media authority that is being done to us.”
Officials from both the government information and the National Communication Authority were not immediately available for comment.
Another journalist said the directive would give the National Communication Authority powers to “command every single activity with the support from the national security agency”.
The move is the latest example of what rights activists say is an increasingly hostile and restrictive approach by the government towards the press in the world’s youngest country.
In July, four news websites and blogs – including the Dutch-backed radio station and website Radio Tamazuj – were either blocked or had transmissions partially restricted.
Foreign correspondents have also faced difficulties in reporting from South Sudan, with at least 20 reporters being denied entry by authorities early this year.
South Sudan, which won independence from Sudan in 2011, plunged into civil conflict in December 2013.