The Government of South Sudan blocked two news websites on Monday 17 July accusing them of “hostile reporting”. The Sudan Tribune and Radio Tamazuj websites were blocked by the National Communications Authority on the orders of the Government. The IFJ demands that the ban on the web sites be lifted immediately.
According to news reports, South Sudan’s Information Minister, Michael Makuei Leuth, attempted to justify his decision for blocking the sites by claiming they were disseminating “hostile messages” against the government.
The Sudan Tribune is a non- profit website based in Paris that was established in 2003. Its goal is “to promote popular information democratic and free debate on Sudan”. Radio Tamazuj broadcasts daily news and current affairs programs including reports on governance, peace building, gender, education, human rights and culture.
"The willful closure of the news websites is a deliberate attempt by the Government of South Sudan to deny its citizens their right to information and shut down dissenting voices”, said IFJ President Philippe Leruth. “The ban must be lifted immediately. Media pluralism and press freedom are corner stones of democracy and allows its citizens' to make informed decisions. We must defend it."
The situation of press freedom in South Sudan has been on a downward spiral since the beginning of the civil war in December 2013. Both the government of South Sudan and the rebel factions have been very repressive to the media.
Attacks on journalists and media workers have been on an exponential rise. Journalists and media workers are often intimidated by security forces and militias and in some instances brutalized. This has forced a number of them into self- censorship, while a handful have been forced into exile.
In 2015, an alleged rebel ambush on a Government convoy in Western Bahr- el – Ghazal killed five journalists. Pow James Raeth of Tamazuj Radio Station in Jonglei State was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen in May 2015 while freelance journalist, Peter Julius Moi was shot dead in Juba in August 2015.
The IFJ calls on the government of South Sudan to reopen the news websites of the Sudan Tribune and Radio Tamazuj immediately and unconditionally.
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 16