South Sudan
Index 2024
136/ 180
Score : 42.57
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
118/ 180
Score : 50.62
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator

Freedom of the press is extremely precarious in South Sudan, where journalists work under constant threat and intimidation, and where censorship is ever-present.

Media landscape

Radio is the most popular medium in South Sudan, with more than 40 radio stations operating in the country’s 10 states. The main ones – Miara, Eye Radio, and Catholic Radio Network  face intimidation attempts and censorship from the authorities. There are two state-owned TV broadcasters, the national South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation and the regional EBC, and six newspapers, four published in English and two in Arabic. Only two of the English-language newspapers – No. 1 Citizen and City Review – are free of government influence.

Political context

Most of South Sudan’s political leaders apply a great deal of pressure to impose their agenda on the media. National TV and radio suffer greatly from a lack of independence. If their programmes don’t toe the government line, they are threatened and sanctioned and their journalists are exposed to the possibility of arrest. Media shutdowns nonetheless became less frequent after the Media Authority (MA), the regulatory body, was established in 2017. Officials from the National Security Service (NSS) often raid news media or printing plants in order to censor specific content. 

Legal framework

In 2013 and 2014, the President enacted the Media Authority Act, the Broadcasting Corporation Act, and the Right of Access to Information Act, which constitute the legal framework for the promotion of press freedom and access to information. But these laws have not prevented repeated and continuous press freedom violations by government officials and the NSS.

Economic context

Media ownership is highly concentrated and has created dominant players. State-owned media and media backed by politicians tend to receive more advertising than their privately owned counterparts. Taxes and the cost of officially registering a media outlet are very high, leaving the media short of funds and creating a favourable environment for corruption. Economic constraints have forced several media outlets to close in recent years.  

Sociocultural context

The civil war that broke out in December 2013, pitting supporters of the president against those of the vice president, revived ethnic conflicts that affect journalists’ work. Reporters belonging to one ethnic group cannot cover events in parts of the country where another ethnic group dominates. Women journalists have been denied authorisation to conduct interviews and cover events.


At least nine journalists have been killed since 2014, including the independent British-American war reporter Christopher Allen. who was shot and described as a “white rebel” by the authorities. The authorities waited more than six years after his assassination before announcing the opening of an investigation. Almost all crimes of violence against journalists go unpunished. Both local and foreign media professionals who try to provide independent reporting are exposed to reprisals, such as execution, torture, kidnapping, arbitrary detention, poisoning, harassment, etc. In the face of these dangers, many decide to shutdown their newspapers or leave the country.