On 23 December, freelance journalist Christopher Allen would have turned 30 years old had he not been killed on 26 August 2017, at the age of 26, covering the civil conflict in South Sudan. To mark his birthday, Christopher’s family have launched an online memorial with never-before-seen photos taken by Christopher and excerpts from his writing from the three weeks he spent embedded with rebel forces in South Sudan before he was killed in the line of duty.
They have also announced the launch of the Christopher Allen Prize for Writing, a competition open to any secondary school student of South Sudanese descent living in South Sudan or any country in Africa. The mentorship which accompanies the cash prize embodies Christopher's love of words and his generosity in supporting others to develop their writing and storytelling skills.
These initiatives are intended to ensure Christopher’s legacy is not forgotten, but also to amplify the need for justice for his killing. More than three years on, there has still been no investigation, and no concrete steps towards justice. Christopher’s family still lacks even basic answers about what happened to him, and his own governments - the US and UK - have failed to provide them with meaningful support or sufficiently pressure the government of South Sudan to fulfil its obligation to conduct an investigation.
“For more than three years, we have tried to uncover the truth about what happened to our son. For more than three years, we have been let down by the very institutions meant to protect journalists and safeguard freedom of expression. As we mark Christopher’s 30th birthday without him, we call again on these bodies - starting with the US government - to take concrete action to ensure another birthday does not pass without answers or justice, and that no other family will have to experience the pain we’ve endured,” said Christopher’s parents Joyce Krajian and John Allen.
“We are deeply saddened and frustrated that more than three years on, Christopher Allen’s family remain largely in the same position they were in immediately after his killing, still asking the same questions from the same institutions, and still seeking answers and accountability. On his birthday, we renew our call for justice for Christopher, but also for greater action by the international community to concretely address the pervasive climate of impunity for the killings of journalists around the world - such as through the establishment of a UN Special Representative for the Safety of Journalists,” said RSF’s Director of International Campaigns Rebecca Vincent.
RSF remains committed to supporting Christopher Allen’s family in their campaign for justice, alongside a legal team from Howard Kennedy LLP and Doughty Street Chambers.
South Sudan is ranked 138th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index.