Senegal: CPJ urges South Sudan to release detained journalist

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) – The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on South Sudanese authorities to immediately release journalist Joseph Afandi.

In a statement, made available to PANA in Dakar on Friday, CPJ said Afandi, an editor for the Arabic daily El Tabeer (Expression), was arrested by agents of the National Security Service (NSS) at the newspaper's offices in the Hai Thuwra district of the capital Juba on 30 December and taken to the NSS headquarters.

"No journalist should be jailed for doing his job, which includes the right to publish or broadcast critical observations about public figures and institutions," remarked CPJ Africa Programme Coordinator, Sue Valentine.

"South Sudanese authorities should release Joseph Afandi immediately or disclose any charges against him, and end their harassment of El Tabeer."

According to the statement, the journalist had recently written an opinion article criticizing the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement for failing to protect the lives of its people and for presiding over the civil war that has devastated the country.

CPJ said no charges against Afandi have been disclosed and its request for information from South Sudanese authorities on why the journalist was arrested and whether he faced any charges remained unanswered.

Meanwhile, a colleague of the detained journalist was quoted as telling South Sudanese station Radio, Tamazuj, that the arresting officers had verbally instructed the newspaper to cease publishing because the government was unhappy with its editorial content and the paper has not appeared since.

CPJ also quoted another editor of El Tabeer, Wazir Michael, announcing at a press conference that he had resigned in an effort to appease the security services and to safeguard the interest of the newspaper.

El Tabeer, one of three Arabic-language newspapers in Juba, was said to have begun publishing in December after the authorities shut Michael's previous newspaper, Al-Rai.

''CPJ research shows that journalists working in South Sudan are subject to arbitrary arrests and threats. In August, President Salva Kiir publicly threatened to kill journalists for reporting 'against the country,''' the statement noted.

The press freedom watchdog also recalled that in January 2015, five journalists were killed in an ambush on a political convoy in Western Bahr al Ghazal state.

''CPJ is investigating the killings of two other journalists in 2015 to determine if they were work-related,'' the statement added.
-0- PANA MLJ/VAO 8Jan2016

08 january 2016 12:43:56




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