Detained VOA reporter released without charges

Diing Magot, a freelance reporter for VOA –Courtesy Photo

By Mary Poni

The freelance reporter for the Voice of America (VOA) in Juba, Diing Magot who was arrested by the police and detained for one week along with some protesters has been released on bail, Monday morning without charges.

The reporter according to police was arrested on Sunday 7 August 2022, while covering a peaceful protest by some youth in Konyokonyo market who were protesting over the skyrocketing commodity prices in the market which has set the standard of living costly for the vulnerable people including persons with disability.

According to Majak, the Secretary General of the Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS), there were no charges filed against journalist Diing, however, Diing was detained for one week before her release.

According to Majak, the police officers were saying that she was not having one of her journalistic tools which was her identification card and the recorder she was using is what was used against her for the article in section 82. “She had her recorder while there was no ID card”, however, the police thought she was going to use the recorded clips for other purposes which held her as a criminal.

“As a journalist, you cannot be charged in that section, up to now nobody has put to us that she was charged of other unnecessary act”, he added that, “today was just ordinary or normal bail without any charges labeled against her.”

Majak stated that unless there are other things that the police should let the lawyers and the Union know, Diing will not be charged or demanded for something before the law.

He further said, if there is anything like that, then the media authority had already informed the other authorized bodies especially the Ministry of Justice that for whatever they are holding the journalist, they should give them the authority.

“It was really hard since Monday when we learnt that she was at the Malakia police station, I Majak and our safety and protection officers had to go to the station and make sure that we confirm that she was really there, we met her and I briefly talked to her though the police were trying to stop people from speaking to her, but at least I managed to asked her why she was arrested and where she was?” Majak recounted the first encounter.

He said Magot explained everything she could and lastly they were told that there was no any other case opened yet and there was only the central police commissioner that ordered her arrest including the other group of people.

The UJOSS Secretary General noted that the reason for Diing long detention was because the investigator started investigating her late, at 3pm on Monday and that he couldn’t finish it, until Wednesday when they got done with the investigations.

“We managed to write and speak to Rebecca Nyandeng to persuade all the things happening such that she could be released urgently,” said Majak. Adding that, “the process has been so hard, tiresome, time consuming and frustrating, practically when one of the colleagues said he was going to give a black out which brought another pressure to their struggle because if it had happened, it could have carried a bad image to the media fraternity, but we managed to brief them on every single step that we were taking”.

UJOSS disclosed that Diing’s recorder and the phone are still in the hands of one of the police officers but today (Tuesday) the safety and protection officer will go back and collect her gargets.

Meanwhile, the other detained protesters were also released on bail yesterday from Malakia Police station after they were transferred back to the station from the Juba Central Prison.

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