Home | News    Wednesday 30 January 2013

Press freedom in South Sudan deteriorates, watchdog


January 30, 2013 (LONDON) - South Sudan slipped 12 places in the annual press freedom index published by Reporters Without Borders (RWB) on Wednesday, leaving it at 124th out of the 180 countries ranked.

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Chief among the reasons for South Sudan’s slide down the table was the murder of a columnist in Juba on 5 December - the first journalist to be killed in the country since separating from Sudan 18 months ago.

In comments made to Al Jazeera, the international media watchdog had warned earlier this month that South Sudan’s ranking was likely to fall due to the general heavy handedness of security forces in dealing with journalists and the killing of Isaiah Abraham, who had been a strong critic of the government in his regular opinion pieces published in Sudan Tribune and other news outlets.

RWB told Al Jazeera that the young nation’s press freedom issues are due to the attitude and bad habits of many members of the government and security services.

This disdain for journalists can be partly attributed to the experience of being ruled by the Khartoum government, RWB said. In the 2013 press freedom league Sudan remained the 170th worst offender out of the 179 countries included.

As well as fighting successive Khartoum governments in two civil wars since Sudan’s independence from Anglo-Egyptian rule in 1956, southern Sudanese politicians, the press freedom organisation said, had also been influenced during periods when they were part of power-sharing governments.

Most recently, South Sudan’s former-rebels-turned-governing-party - the SPLM - shared power with Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) for six years as part of a 2005 peace deal that led to the South opting to secede in 2011.

Shortly after South Sudan declared independence the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that "local journalists fear the former rebels turned government officials who still harbor a war mentality that is unaccustomed to criticism, and that they are not prepared to extend the freedoms they fought hard to attain".

Since Abraham’s death, Sudan Tribune’s reporters in Juba have observed a decrease in the amount of comment critical of the government appearing in South Sudan’s press.

As Sudan Tribune reported two weeks ago, many South Sudanese writers live in fear and receive threats both in person from the security services and anonymously over the phone.

There are hopes that when South Sudan passes long awaited media legislation the rights of journalists and publishers will be clearer and not left to the whim of politicians and the security services.

South Sudan was not the only nation to fall significantly in this year’s rankings, with Chad and Zimbabwe by 18 and 16 places respectively. The RWB reports also found that East Africa was stagnating near the bottom of the index:

East Africa: journalists’ graveyard

In Somalia (175th, -11) 18 journalists were killed, caught up in bomb attacks or were the direct targets of murder, making 2012 the deadliest in history for the country’s media. The Horn of Africa state was the second most dangerous country in the world for those working in news and information, behind Syria. In Eritrea (in last place in the index for the sixth successive year), no journalists were killed but some were left to die, which amounts to the same thing. With at least 30 behind bars, it is Africa’s biggest prison for journalists. Of 11 incarcerated since 2001, seven have died as a result of prison conditions or have killed themselves. Since the independent media were abolished more than 10 years ago, there are no independent Eritrean news outlets, other than outside the country, and terror prevails.

East Africa is also a region of censorship and crackdowns. Omar al-Bashir’s Sudan, where more newspapers were seized and the arrests of journalists continued during the summer, is stuck firmly in 170th place, in the bottom 10 of the index. Djibouti (167th, -8), which also has no independent media, detained a correspondent of the foreign-based news site La Voix de Djibouti. Despite the release of two Swedish journalists arrested in 2011, Ethiopia(137th) fell 10 places because of its repressive application of the 2009 anti-terrorist law and the continued detention of several local journalists.


You can read the full report here: RSF: East Africa stagnates near bottom of the index, Mali nosedives

Sudan Tribune coverage of press freedom in South Sudan and Sudan:

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  • 31 January 2013 00:08, by Darkangel

    This must be a joke ! S Sudan is equal to South America in Press freedoms. There is no independant media, Tv radio. Either UN (Johnston & her s Sudan boyfriend) or SSTV. Independent journalist killed and not even a media legislation. This should be in bottom of list. Sudan doesnt arrest media. Only reason why S Sudan score high is because it allows on Anti Sudan press cover, making it popular !

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    • 31 January 2013 00:11, by Darkangel

      The USA pressures NGO & organisations to make S Sudan look good. But you cant hide a rotten egg for long, the stink is obvious in S Sudan. Unlike S Sudan, Sudan has multiple opposition parties all in the country, multiple papers and indepedant TV & radio. In S Sudan only one SPLM, if you are not you are traitor or arab lover.
      Sick, Sick hypocricy !
      ST is the biggest Joke. Agenda Anti Sudan

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      • 31 January 2013 00:19, by Lotodo Awino Odug

        Welldone watchdog,those who wants to deride our democrazy will be ask to account for, if the nation fail to fulfil her promises.

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      • 31 January 2013 00:45, by mohamed mahgoub

        D. A if ur realy sudanese better shut up when it comes to talk about freedom & human rights!

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        • 31 January 2013 03:14, by Darkangel

          Mahgoob i am sudanese, but im not sure you are. Hiding in France & making your living by constantly allowing your cheap propagnada zionist machine to destroy Sudan. I would luv for you to say something ANYTHING good about sudan, but your too obsorbed in your hatred for the NCP and Islamists to see any good for your country.
          I wont call you traitor, but you dont love your country and just use it.

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          • 31 January 2013 04:51, by Panthou

            Darkangel, I thought you’re really smart like darkangel. But, you’re not! Please change your name to an Arab angel, if there’s an angel in an Arabic. Dude, you failed to pay a $ Million dollar. Bill so that your membership in the U.N! Oohoow Sudan! Die while you’re pretending! OK Sudan see you in panthou soon! We’re discussing the problem of panthou now, while you’re out there watching the outcome

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          • 31 January 2013 09:04, by mohamed mahgoub

            Mr. D angle I’m not unique on the less than 2 yrs 8 million of our citizens did the same when they fed up with this country and chose to broke away from us cuz things like NCP ,islamization and arabizatiion ,in case u forgetting there is acountry now called suoth Sudan in ur southern door step !!!

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        • 31 January 2013 04:29, by Panthou

          Mohamed, you’re true! I respect the person through his/her words, not through his/her origin. According, Mr. Darkangel, which there’s no darkangel. He’s trying to cover everything up everything that has happened, so no body see or learned from it. We will never give up this done deal Sudan, till we sees this done deal Sudan in the hands of Nubian, Fuj, Darfur n Beja.

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        • 31 January 2013 05:13, by Observer

          Now you will be accused of being a traitor, not living in Sudan etc etc - You know you are not allowed by Northern Sudanese, Dark Angel etc to tell the truth about our leaders and country!

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          • 31 January 2013 05:18, by Observer

            Oh I forgot about the bit where we are called Zionist supporters but I see it was included by Dark Angel.
            So predictable from the blind followers.
            Dark Angel- if you really lived in Sudan you would be more truthful and objective about what is really happening here.

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    • 31 January 2013 04:28, by Kenyang

      Hope ur pen-name is not what you really are.lol But no, take it from me, South Sudan is far more safer to Journalists (& everyone) than North Sudan. Remember, I have nothing against N. Sudan here, but cersorship, jailing or killing journalist is a direct policy and well recorded history part of Sudan gov’t. In S. Sudan, only few arrogant/illiterate do that but not part of gov’t policy

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      • 31 January 2013 07:20, by Darkangel

        Kenyang name me 1 journalist that was killed by the gov. As for the South using the excuse of illiterate etc is a joke. No soldier does anything wihtout from command above. I am being objective. I didnt say sudan was perfect, but to say South Sudan is better is political. I dare anyone to speak against SPLM in SS - killed. But in Sudan Turabi et al can say antything - maybe jailed if threat to SD.

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        • 31 January 2013 11:20, by mohamed mahgoub

          Mr. D A wonder why u always campare our country to south Sudan ! It’s very new one ,we have 50+ yrs in exsistance ,the fact is the creation of south Sudan republic is sneer prove our countryside failture as aunified one ,human rights& freedoms weren’t created by them so any happened here u justify it cuz the same happened in SS,so their govnt is corruped we should have the same.

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        • 2 February 2013 04:40, by Kenyang

          Do you remember this Sudanese Journalist, Mohammed Taha and what happen to him in 2006? Again, any rational person can’t compare brutality in Sudan with South Sudan. Yes, in S. Sudan, there still exists lawlessness but (the country’s not even 2 yrs old, no final laws yet.) Whatever happened is not authorized venture to silent or kill other S. Sudanese unlike the case with NiF regime.

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    • 31 January 2013 05:11, by Observer

      Laughing so loud at Dark Angel and his statement
      "Sudan doesn;t arrest media"
      Maybe you meant something else but in this statement you have just shown what is wrong with the likes of you- master, jalaby, northern sudanese- you can;t see the truth.
      Sudan DOES arrest media- it closes down newspapers who print the real truth.

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      • 31 January 2013 09:21, by Turism

        honesty, it is not what people think about posted gov’t to temper with medias people, how long will citizens fear to express their feeling if this kind of arrassment continue?

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  • 31 January 2013 03:20, by Panthou

    From: south Sudan.
    Well, Mr. RWB, with your press freedom. As prematurely mentioned on your article that south Sudan have been an independent for 18 months. There’s nowhere on this world that has got no problem. You have heard the shooting that took place couple of months ago in Connecticut in united states of America killing 20 kids n 6 teachers. Why America is not rank as number 1 killing---

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  • 31 January 2013 03:39, by Panthou

    Or suicidal state? The world is tired of you white people! When it’s comes to money you report damn things, in order to obtain your pay check. This fact is taught in the school of journalist, that if you don’t exaggerated things then you don’t deserves to get things out of lie. That’s why you, journalist get kill easily. Juba is working day n night in order to pass the legislation, freedom---

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  • 31 January 2013 04:01, by Panthou

    Safety n freedom speech for our journalist. But, don’t compare our evergreen state, or beloved blessed south Sudan to the other damn devils states that has been an independent for almost 60 years and still killing her own peoples. I am fighting back folks, don’t judge me! South Sudan , can’t be compared with the gone case Sudan which go from civil war- civil war n genocide to genocide.

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    • 31 January 2013 04:46, by Kenyang

      You said:
      "I am fighting back folks, don’t judge me!"
      I say:
      I heard you Panthou. You have a great name too...

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  • 31 January 2013 09:16, by Turism

    I supprise that s. sudan doesn’t like journalise to express thier opinion as they are termed as a watchdog withouth the medias then the country will be in mess. gov’t should stop that habit.

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