March 8, 2016 - Updated on March 21, 2016

Reporter kidnapped and tortured two weeks after release

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the appalling torture to which newspaper reporter Joseph Afandi was subjected just two weeks after his release from a long period of detention, and calls on the government to guarantee the safety of journalists in South Sudan.

It has only just been reported that Afandi was found badly beaten and burned near a cemetery in the capital, Juba, four days ago, and is now hospitalized. A colleague, Ibrahim Awuol, said he has serious leg injuries caused by burning plastic.

Afandi said he was abducted on 4 March by unidentified men in a white vehicle with tinted windows and no number plate. The authorities recently held him incommunicado for two months for criticizing the government’s handling of the civil war, which has dragged on for more than two years.

He was finally freed on 19 February without being notified of any charge.

“We condemn this cruel act of violence against Joseph Afandi with the utmost energy and we call for an immediate investigation with the aim of identifying those responsible,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of RSF’s Africa desk.

“In the absence of such an investigation, we remind the South Sudanese authorities that those who make such human rights violations possible will one day be called to account before an international court.”

Local observers have reported an increase in attacks on journalists in recent weeks. In most cases, the terrified victims have asked not to be identified.

Freedom of information has declined steadily since the start of the deadly civil war in South Sudan, the world’s newest state. Six journalists were killed in connection with their work in 2015, while the government has closed at least five media outlets including journalist Niah Bohl’s historic Citizen Newspaper.

South Sudan is ranked 125th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

Photo : Joseph Afandi,