The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today has condemned the arrest and detention in very inhumane conditions of journalist Alfred Taban in South Sudan.
According to the Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS), Alfred Taban, a veteran journalist and chief editor of the Juba Monitor, was arrested and detained for hours on Sunday, March 3, 2013, after the publication of an opinion story written by a citizen from Rumbek, the capital of Lakes State, one of the ten states of South Sudan.
The opinion article questioned the integrity of the former governor of Lakes State, Mr. Chuol Tong Mayay, concerning the accountability of public funds which were not definitely used to implement a project. The writer of the opinion piece raised concerns on how the money was spent. The former governor reportedly went to the police station and opened a case against the newspaper. Taban was subsequently arrested and locked up in a small cell for hours without anything to sit on, food or water to drink.
“We condemn the arrest and detention of Taban as a criminal. Citizens must be allowed to express their views in the public interest as this is what guarantees good governance, accountability and probity. This expression cannot be criminalised. We call on authorities in South Sudan to stop with immediate effect, the intimidation of journalists and endeavour to promote freedom of expression and of the press”, said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa Director.
Over the last two months UJOSS has documented more than 10 cases of arrests and detentions due to the absence of media laws in South Sudan. Last December, Diing Chan Awuol, journalist, columnist and blogger, was murdered in cold blood outside his home in the suburb of Gudek in Juba, the capital city.
“We urge parliamentarians to pass the laws to protect journalists, media actors and the public. The delay of passing the media laws is a challenge for the administration of justice for journalists, media houses and the public in South Sudan,” said Oliver Modi Philip Chairperson of the Union of Journalists of South Sudan.
For more information, please contact IFJ on +221- 33 867 95 87
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries