A reporter for the Arabic-language daily Al-Maugif, Malek Bol was dumped by his kidnappers at Juba’s Gumba cemetery yesterday, three days after he went missing. Fellow journalists who recovered him from the cemetery said he was badly injured and bore the marks of torture. He is now in a Juba hospital.
Colleagues said he had posted an article on social networks criticizing the crisis and the corruption that is undermining South Sudan’s economy. According to Radio Tamazuj, the article was headlined “Taste of the truth is bitter” and said that President Kiir and his family had “let people of South Sudan live in acute poverty.”
Reuters quoted Al-Maugif editor Mathiang Cirilo as saying: “He was told by those who abducted him that he has abused the president on his social media.”
“We condemn this act of cruelty with the utmost energy and wish Malek Bol a swift recovery,” said RSF.
“The persecution of journalists has intensified in recent months in South Sudan. We are seeing the progressive destruction of civil society, with journalists among the leading targets. The international community must clearly condemn this behaviour and remind the South Sudanese authorities of their international obligations.”
“We found him in a bad condition, beaten and burned,” one of his colleagues told the Sudan Tribune by telephone. He was burned and bruised in many places, while an arm and several ribs were broken.
A relative, Bol Deng, told Eye Radio: “He was tortured and punitively head-shaved. He was also tortured with a buttstock.”
Freelance journalist Isaac Vuni’s body was found just two weeks ago, four months after he was abducted, while Joseph Afandi was badly beaten and burned with plastic on 8 March. In each case, RSF issued a press release calling for an investigation, which did not materialize.
South Sudan is ranked 140th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index, 15 places lower than its position in the 2015 Index.
More information on South Sudan here.