U.S. pressurizes gov’t to investigate Allen’s killing

By Mary Poni

The United States government still demands the Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) to ensure they investigate the unfortunate killing of the US freelance journalist Christopher Allen who was killed at frontline in 2017 while covering fighting between government forces and the SPLM/A-IO rebels led by Dr. Riek Machar.

Piled pressure on the unity government to investigate Allen’s death comes even after the Minister of Information and government’s spokesperson Michael Makuei Lueth said the late American freelance reporter entered the country illegally and he was killed in rebel side.

On the other hand, the deputy minister of information also told journalists in a media briefing that the government in the first place shouldn’t he held to account for Allen’s dead because he was killed while at the side of rebels thus the SPLM/A-IO should have been responsible to investigate the incident.

The Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Juba Mr. Moulik D. Berkana told No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper in an exclusive interview that the U.S. government is very disappointed by the minister of information with his remarks in regards to the government’s reluctance to investigate the matter.

“We will continue to call for an investigation to the tragic killing and I think there are still a lot of questions that still need to be investigated about the conditions, what happened who is responsible and I think this goes to the family as well,” he lamented.

It’s five years now since the American journalist was killed in frontline in South Sudan and the U.S. gov’t and Allen’s family is still yearning for accountability on his dead as America continues calling for timely investigation of the tragic incident.

“We believe that there would be answers provided not only for the U.S. gov’t, but also on behalf of his family,” Mr. Moulik stressed.

US Embassy in Juba recently released a statement, saying the deceased is five-years now and the family still lacks answers to basic questions about his death.

The U.S. gov’t alongside Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said they will continue to support the campaign for justice, including their call on President Biden to prioritize the safety of journalists and ensure that no journalist can again be targeted with impunity in the way Allen was killed.

Two years ago, on the three-year anniversary of Allen’s killing, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions issued a statement noting that the lack of an official investigation sent “a very dangerous signal that journalists and media workers can be targeted with impunity”.

He further called on the governments of South Sudan and the U.S. to ensure that the circumstances of Allen’s murder were fully, independently and fearlessly investigated.

The Minister of Information Michael Makuei Lueth repeatedly termed the murdered journalist a white rebel and a criminal who entered the country illegally.

“Can we be answerable or accountable for the death of such a journalist who knew that he entered the country illegally and decided to be with the rebels who are fighting the government of South Sudan” he questioned.

Speaking during the commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists this year, Minister Makuei reiterated that government is not answerable for Christopher Allen’s murder.

“The government should not be held answerable for the death of American journalist because he entered South Sudan illegally” said Makuei.

Christopher Allen was killed in 2017 while covering war between government forces and the opposition armed group SPLM/A-IO in the southern town of Kaya, near the border with Uganda, and close to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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