UJoSS appeals to gov’t to investigate crimes against journalists

UJoSS appeals to gov’t to investigate crimes against journalists
UJOSS President Oyet Patrick (photo credit: courtesy)

The Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJoSS) has urged the government to investigate all crimes against journalists across the country.

UJoSS President Patrick Oyet appealed to both state and national governments to protect journalists from all forms of violence to allow them to do their work in a free environment.

In an interview with The City Review yesterday, ahead of the international day to end impunity for crimes against journalists, Oyet said the government should investigate, prosecute and allow those who committed crimes against journalists to face the law.

It is commemorated on November 2.

“If anyone among the journalists is harmed, his or her right is violated, the issue should not be ignored because some people say these are rumour mongers they always cause a problem.

“They might have been beaten because they caused a problem but the case shouldn’t be left that way the issue must be investigated and brought to a logical conclusion,” he said.

“My appeal is that protection should be provided to journalists, this protection is not like extraordinary protection, and by protecting journalists you are protecting human rights which is a right of everybody,” Oyet said.

Oyet urged the concerned institutions such as the Access to Information Commission and the Media Authority to do their work to ease the work of journalists in the country.

He emphasised that those institutions were set up for the good of journalists.

“The institutions should work to make the work of journalists easy because, at the end of the day, the information that the journalists collect and provide to the public helps the public to make decisions.”

UJOSS’s president said the case of those journalists killed since 2014 was still pending and those who committed the murder remained unknown.

 He said: “Those journalists who were killed and up to now their issues are not clear; the people who killed them have never been taken to court and prosecuted.

“It is not even clear who kills them so when crimes are committed we expect the state to take action to get the people who have committed the crime to be prosecuted when they are found guilty”.

He said since June, UJOSS had registered several continuous cases of detention of journalists without trial and threats across South Sudan including in Juba and the states like Lakes.

He said most of the threats are coming from the security personnel guarding government institutions that in an actual sense are the right people to tell journalists what not to cover, for example, the court.

“We have more than 15 cases that somebody has been threatening not to cover stories. We had several detentions without trial, in Juba; we have about three very serious cases then in states we have several cases on threats and detention.”

According to him lack of resources, and sometimes threats from the government for journalists not seeking legal redress; and also lack of association that provides legal aid to advance human rights violations for free are some of the things that make it difficult to handle cases of journalists in South Sudan.

He said they had received positive responses from the state governors but that does not mean the cases are over.

Oyet said they were committed to engaging media authority which he said has been supporting them.

In a joint press release by UJoSS and Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), on Saturday, the executive director of CEPO Edmund Yakani, said the continuous detention and intimidation of journalists in South Sudan is a clear denial of freedom of the press, and the right to access of information as enshrined in the country’s constitution.

At least 10 journalists have been killed since 2014. In August 2015, a reporter known as Peter Moi was killed in Juba.

US-British freelance war reporter, Christopher Allen, was shot dead by a government soldier in Yei River County of Central Equatoria State while covering fighting between government forces and SPLA-IO in 2017.