RSF calls for justice after South Sudanese journalist’s body found
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled to learn that freelance journalist Isaac Vuni’s body was found on 26 September, four months after his abduction, and calls on South Sudan’s authorities to shed all possible light on his murder.
Vuni’s relatives told the independent Sudan Tribune newspaper that his body was discovered on a farm outside Kerepi, the village where his family lives, located in the north of the country near the Ugandan border.
Gunmen kidnapped Vuni and his brother Andruga from the family’s
home on the night of 4 June. A witness told the South Sudan Liberty News website at the time that the abductors wore the same
military dress as members of the “Tiger Battalion,” President
Salva Kiir’s bodyguards.
It seems that Vuni was killed shortly after his abduction, which was never claimed. His brother has yet to be found.
Vuni, who often wrote for the Sudan Tribune, had been under surveillance by the South Sudanese security forces for years. He was arrested in Juba on 29 July 2009 after reporting that members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the South Sudanese government were implicated in a financial scandal.
He was beaten while held incommunicado in a Juba police station from 28 March to 2 May 2011, during a crackdown on South Sudan’s journalists.
“We condemn Isaac Vuni’s foul murder and call on the authorities to conduct an investigation to identify those responsible and bring them to justice,” said Cléa Kahn Sriber, the head of RSF’s Africa desk.
“The authorities distinguished themselves by their silence at the time of his abduction. Their silence cannot continue. They must put an end to the widespread impunity prevailing in South Sudan, which makes this kind of abuse possible.”
Journalists and media outlets have constantly been the targets of violence since the start of the civil war in 2013. The South Sudanese authorities, and the intelligence services in particular, often hold journalists incommunicado in an attempt to silence the media.
As RSF has already reported, Radio Miraya’s George Livio has been held incommunicado in Juba for more than two years, while newspaper editor Alfred Taban was held incommunicado for 13 days in July Alfred Taban was held incommunicado for 13 days in July after publishing an article calling on the authorities to implement the peace accord.
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.