By Bida Elly David
The Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) has denounced the continuous detention of a freelance VOA reporter Diing Magot who was apprehended last Sunday and called for immediate release.
The female Journalist was arrested on Sunday, 7th August-2022 near Nyakuron cultural Centre while returning back from covering a peaceful protest at Konyo-Kony main market.
She was first taken to Buluk police station and later relocated to Juba Central Prison on Tuesday, 9th -August -2022.
In a press statement seen by No.1.Citizen Daily Newspaper, the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) reiterated words of regret as to why government authorities continued detaining the journalist despite series of follow up made.
“AMDISS has been following the case closely together with other media institutions. However, it is not clear why government authorities continued to detain the journalist,” AMDISS questioned the motive.
“Information from the police indicates that the journalist was not found with any identification (ID) at the time of her arrest. Though later the media house which she works for wrote a letter certifying that Diing is their correspondent in South Sudan, and other relevant documents including her IDs were also availed to the authorities to prove that she is a journalist,’’ the statement added.
AMDISS further reiterated that the on-going detention of Diing after all the efforts was a big concern to the Association and the entire media fraternity in South Sudan.
“The continued detention of this journalist after all the above efforts is a big concern to AMDISS and the entire media fraternity in South Sudan. It has serious repercussions on press freedom and the safety of journalists, especially female journalists as this could force journalists into self-censorship to avoid being arrested and detained. AMDISS therefore calls upon authorities in charge to release Diing Magot immediately. Journalist Diing did not commit any crime. She was doing her job as a journalist, fulfilling her duty given to her by the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011,” the media advocacy appealed.
The Association however urged journalists and media houses to continue upholding journalism ethics and the code of conduct of the practice of journalism in the Republic of South Sudan.
Meanwhile Edmund Yakani, the Executive Director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) said the arrest of the female journalist was an incident that contributed in shrinking the civic space in the Country.
“I was a bit moved and disturbed with the recent incident that contributed to shocking of the civic space and among the incident is the detention of Diing Magot, a female journalist who reports for VOA and arrested during coverage of a protest by civilians or citizens in Konyo-Konyo market,” he said.
The activist said he was disturbed by continuous shrinking civic space as the journalist and protesters arrest and detention was also followed by the brief detention of the SPL/MA-IO members in Lakes State and the threatening statement issued by the deputy mayor of Juba City Council against protesters.
“I want to take this opportunity to raise a concern on the recent incidents that are contributing in shrinking the civic space. As we are aware that the Country is undergoing transitional security process and civic and political space are very important for sharing information, opinion and ideas to make sure that we reach consensus and sort out misinformation that might have been in the public space,” he said.
The activist added that those incidences were clear evidences that the civic space was no longer easy to operate between the indicators of civic rights.
He called on the Country’s leadership to immediately release the female journalist who was detained and transferred to Juba main prison.
“I would like to take this opportunity to urgently urge the leadership of the Country to ensure that the female journalist that was under detention and arrested during the Kony-konyo protest should immediately be released and the practice for controlling political space should be stopped because we are going to roll out the roadmap for the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement,” he advocated.
As of Friday evening the Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS) which has been keenly following up the case of Diing’s arrest and subsequent detention since day one released latest updates as they had been engaging the authorities together with a team of lawyers to ensure her unconditional release.
In the situational update, the statement issued on Friday evening by UJOSS’ president Oyet Patrick, and as seen by No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper, the union said a bail application was submitted to the Senior Public Prosecution Attorney, but couldn’t act immediately.
“A team of lawyers submitted a bail application to a Senior Public Prosecution Attorney (PPA) but for PPA to act, he needed a case file, unfortunately, there was no case file for our colleague Diing Magot” UJOSS disclosed in a statement.
“On Friday afternoon at around 3:00 pm, a case file for Diing was finally availed to the PPA however it was already late for him to take any action. We have been assured that PPA’s office will work on it today, Saturday, we hope our colleague will be released” UJOSS further stated.
The Union of Journalist has vowed to continue following up Diing’s case until she is released.