Rights group condemns closure of media outlets

Nairobi, August 10, 2015 (SSNA) — The South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy (SSHURSA) has condemned the shutting down of two South Sudanese media outlets namely, The Citizen Newspaper and Free Voice Radio.

The news outlets were close down on August 5 by South Sudan’s government security. SSHURSA, which monitors human rights and train general public on rule of law, human rights, and governance, says the act amounts to a “display of dictatorship.”

SSHURSA’s Executive Director, Biel Boutros Biel, condemned the move.  

“The South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy (SSHURSA) condemns in strongest terms possible the shutdown of The Citizen Newspaper and Free Voice Radio by the security agents of the government of South Sudan. SSHURSA condemns such act as an open display of dictatorship and fear for the public scrutiny relevant for building rule of law, democracy and good governance,” Biel said in a statement extended to the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA).

Biel blasts government’s action, saying security agents violate press freedom and accuses government of “misguided conception.”

“Closing down media outlets is violation of press freedom, speech and expression, all of which are adored norms and values of normal society which a responsible government and its security institutions ought to respect and promote. The government’s agents willfully intimidating, harassing and closing down outspoken media institutions, is a misguided conception of protecting national interests,” Biel noticed.

Biel pointed out that latest closure of the two media houses is not the first time Juba shutdown media outs.

“In November 2011, two editors working with Destiny Newspaper were detained in Juba for weeks, tortured and later discharged without trial. They were accused of an article one of them wrote, which was critical on the marriage of President Salva Kiir’s daughter by an Ethiopian national. Many journalists including Bakhita Radio and other Catholic Radio networks in Juba, Rumbek and other places have always been intimidated and detained,” he observed.

SSHURSA further disclosed that government security agents have been suppressing media freedom in violating of article 24 of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011. Biel calls on Juba to immediately reinstate The Citizen English daily and Free Voice and urges security agents to stop harassing the media, adding that other South Sudanese media outlets should not panic and that they should continue their works. SSHURSA further calls upon United Nations and international human rights groups to continue standing with South Sudanese media and hold South Sudanese government accountable for violating media laws.

It is alleged that the two media houses were shut down because the editor of The Citizen Newspaper Nhial Bol wrote an article that suggested that the IGAD-Plus proposed compromise peace agreement is good and that the peace proposal is a test for Salva Kiir’s leadership. It has also been purported that the two outlets angered the government because they covered an event conducted by South Sudan’s opposition parties.

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