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Rights group condemns attack on South Sudan journalists

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November 3, 2019 (NAIROBI) – The campaign group, Amnesty International has condemned attacks by South Sudan army on journalists, saying it restricts freedom of expression and media freedom.

Two female journalists reported on Thursday last week that they were physically attacked by General Malaak Ayuen Ajok, the South Sudan army’s (SSPDF) director of information and public relations.

The two female journalists were part of the media fraternity invited to cover the seventh military command council conference, which was opened by President Salva Kiir at the military headquarters in Juba.

The army spokesperson, however, regretted attacks on the two journalists.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Seif Magango said last week’s incident is part of a sustained effort by the South Sudanese authorities for years now to restrict the right to freedom of expression and media freedom.

“The authorities’ suppression of the right to freedom of expression and media freedom ahead of the formation of the long-awaited transitional government of national unity is deeply troubling,” said Magango.

“The Government of South Sudan must respect, protect, promote and fulfill the right to freedom of expression and media freedom in the country,” he added.

Magango urged the South Sudanese authorities to stop harassing, intimidating and attacking journalists and media practitioners.

He called for thorough investigations into the alleged attacks against journalists, saying anyone suspected to be responsible be fairly tried.

Since South Sudan’s independence in 2011, dozens of reporters have been subject to intimidation, arrest, censorship and violence. The advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said at least 10 were killed from 2014 through 2017 during a bitter civil war that ended last year.

(ST)

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