After six years with no justice for Christopher Allen’s killing in South Sudan, RSF urges US to lead investigation
After six years of excuses and even insults to his memory by South Sudanese government officials, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is calling for a credible, US-led investigation into the killing of dual US-UK national Christopher Allen who was killed while reporting on the South Sudan civil conflict in 2017.
Allen, a dual US-UK citizen and freelance journalist, was repeatedly shot while covering a clash in Kaya, near South Sudan’s border with Uganda, on August 26, 2017 after having been embedded with rebel forces for three weeks. He was carrying only a camera and was 26 years old at the time of his killing. Available information demonstrates that war crimes were committed in the deliberate targeting of Allen and the treatment of his body after his death, including trophy-style photos.
RSF welcomes renewed efforts by US government officials to hold South Sudanese officials accountable, including a joint statement by the US and UK embassies in Juba this week. Nevertheless, six years later, no official investigation has occurred and Allen’s grieving family is left with many unanswered questions.
“Six years without an investigation means six long years without justice. South Sudan’s government should be ensuring accountability for this heinous crime, but instead, its Information Minister has hurled callous insults at Allen’s family and his memory. Juba’s failure to hold anyone accountable has shown us the only path forward in a US-led investigation to identify all those responsible for Allen’s killing and bring them to full criminal justice.
The failure of South Sudan’s government to deliver justice for Allen has been made all the more egregious by its flippant attitude towards the affair. Immediately after Allen’s killing, degrading photos were shared online depicting his naked body. More recently, on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, November 2, 2022, Information Minister Michael Makuei outrageously blamed Allen for his own death, accusing him of being a “white rebel” – in other words, a mercenary.
RSF has supported Allen’s family in their global campaign for justice, including advocacy at the UN level and with both of Allen’s governments, the US and UK. RSF has continuously raised Allen’s case with the United States government, particularly in letters to the Trump and Biden administrations and in direct meetings with the Department of Justice, Department of State, and Members of Congress. To mark the fifth anniversary of Allen’s killing in 2022, RSF organized letters from Maine’s congressional delegation to President Biden, as Allen’s parents reside in Maine.
RSF will continue to urge the United States government to launch its own investigation and achieve justice for Christopher Allen.
South Sudan ranks 118th out of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index.