By Gladys Fred Kole
As South Sudan joined the globe to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists yesterday, the Union of Journalists South Sudan (UJOSS) and the Troika countries (the UK and Norway) reiterated their call for investigations into slain journalists while on duty.
In a statement, Majak Daniel Kuany Alier, the UJOSS Secretary General, stated that, as a union, they hold the belief that journalists and media workers should not be treated inhumanely simply because of their work.
“Our demand this year is for the state to carry out the same investigation as the Christopher Allen death for all South Sudanese journalists who have died in the country,” said MajaK.
He said since it’s a crucial moment of advocacy, they would like to draw attention to the situation of violence against journalists and media workers as they anticipate the 2024 general election period.
“As the country approaches a crucial phase of the transitional period, it is imperative to denounce and avoid the restrictions on the press that have existed in the past.” Majak echoed.
According to him, journalists and political communicators have fallen victim to rigorous individuals and security agencies while on duty since 2012.
“We urge state actors to enhance the institutional legal framework to combat violence and impunity against journalists,” he stated.
“Our list is available, and we are prepared to give it to the media authority to initiate the investigation process as the media regulator in the country.” The UJOSS secretary-general stated
In a separate but similar appeal, the embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom also issued a joint statement yesterday urging authorities to provide journalists with a conducive working environment.
“On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, we recognize the vital role that media plays in healthy democracies. Journalists must be guaranteed the ability to practice their profession without fear of harassment, attacks, or arbitrary detention,” the statement partly read.
The US and UK embassies also took the opportunity to call again for a credible investigation that led to accountability for the 2017 death of Christopher Allen.
Allen, the American-British citizen freelance journalist who was killed while covering clashes between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in-Opposition, is the only journalist for whom the government has formed a committee to investigate his killing after several years of pressure from the US and UK governments.
Since South Sudan gained independence in 2011, a dozen journalists, including American journalist Christopher Allen, have lost their lives without accountability.
Each year, South Sudan is consistently ranked among the highest nations on the impunity index lists due to the lack of accountability for over 10 journalists who have been killed so far.
This year’s International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists (IDEI) was observed at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Juba under the theme, “Protecting Journalists, Upholding Democratic Values”.