JUBA – A South Sudan media group has condemned this week’s unlawful detention of several journalist by the country’s national security service.
On Monday, members of South Sudan’s National Security Service (NSS) detained five journalists while covering a press conference held at Suk Custom by the Central Equatoria state Chamber of Commerce to address soaring commodity prices.
The journalists work for the Juba-based Juba Monitor, Radio Miraya, Equator Broadcasting Cooperation and other media houses.
Mary Ajith, who chairs the Association for Media Development in South Sudan, told Eye Radio that the arrests were a violation of press freedom.
She partly blamed the current media environment on unprofessionalism among security personnel.
“When we have people in the system who lack professionalism and lack understanding the roles of the media, things keep going like that,” she said Thursday.
There have been reported cases of attack on media freedom in South Sudan.
Weeks ago, Juba Monitor Journalist Bullen Alexander Bala was arrested by the National Security and taken to a detention facility at the riverside.
He was later transferred to Malakia Police State where he spent several days before his release.
Bullen’s detention came a month after the arrest of Number One Citizen Newspaper journalist – Jackson Ochaya.
According to Reporters without Borders’ 2019 global press freedom index, South Sudan ranked 139 out of 180 countries.
Since independence in 2011, dozens of reporters have been subjected to intimidation, arrest, censorship and violence, according to rights groups.
It says misconceptions about journalism in the country extend beyond the authorities.
“Security institutions need to employ public relations or communications officers so that they practically explain to officers the importance of media,” she added.
Arbitrary arrest and detention, harassment, intimidation and killing of journalists have forced many to abandon the profession or leave the country.