JUBA – Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the increase in the harassment of journalists and media outlets in South Sudan, amid civil society calls for President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar to resign.
The statement comes in the wake of report that security officials raided Radio Jonglei on August 27, closed down the station and briefly detained three of its journalists.
The official reason for the raid was to prevent the station from continuing to broadcast because its journalists were suspected of sympathising with the People’s Coalition for Civil Action (PCCA) and were accused of broadcasting a call for a protest that was supposed to have taken place on 30 August.
The radio station’s director said he received several calls from security officials summoning him for a meeting and ordered a halt to coverage of political stories.
“The wave of arrests and threats against journalists in recent weeks is worrying,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk.
“The undisguised hostility of the authorities towards the media highlights how difficult it is for journalists to cover politics in South Sudan, where at least ten have been killed since 2014. We call for an immediate end to the harassment of South Sudanese reporters and media,” he added.
The raid on Radio Jonglei is the latest in a series of reprisals against journalists since July, when Alfred Angasi, a news presenter with the state-owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC), was arrested and held arbitrarily for more than two weeks for refusing to read part of a presidential decree during a news programme. He has since been released from detention.
According to RSF, online news and information are closely monitored and even censored in South Sudan, which is ranked 139th out of 180 countries in its 2021 World Press Freedom Index.