End of a series of murders?
No journalist was killed in South Sudan in 2019 for the second year in a row. In a country ravaged by civil war since late 2013, the signing of a peace accord and Riek Machar’s finally achieved return as vice-president have been accompanied by a reduction in the fighting. But the situation remains precarious. With at least ten journalists killed since 2014, the years of fighting have weakened the media. Forced by the government not to cover issues linked to the conflict, the media are very sparing in their reporting on important developments. President Salva Kiir’s verbal threats against journalists who “work against their country” in August 2015 were followed three days later by reporter Peter Moi’s murder in Juba. Two soldiers were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2018 for the murder of a journalist, but impunity prevails in almost all cases. Christopher Allen, a US-British freelance war reporter who sustained fatal gunshot injuries in August 2017, was described by the authorities as a “white rebel.” The exact circumstances of his death have never been clarified and no serious investigation has never been carried out.
Foreign journalists and media have also been subjected to the regime’s harassment. Two journalists, one working for the AP and the other for France 24, were expelled in 2019, while the BBC’s local relays and a UN radio station were shut down in 2018. Harassment, arbitrary detention, torture or execution-style murder is the price that journalists pay for not censoring themselves. Close surveillance and intimidation are also part of the regime’s predatory methods, and security agents often go directly to printing presses to censor content. Several of the newspaper Al-Mouqif’s articles were censored in this manner in 2019. The intelligence agencies also tried to get a radio station manager to submit his interviews for approval before broadcasting them. To escape the harassment, some journalists have preferred to flee the country or just close their publications.
139 in 2019
45.65 in 2019