News / Africa

South Sudan Journalist Released, Bakhita Radio Still Silent

Catholic Bakhita Radio was shut down and its news editor arrested after it aired a story about fighting in Unity State.Catholic Bakhita Radio was shut down and its news editor arrested after it aired a story about fighting in Unity State.
x
Catholic Bakhita Radio was shut down and its news editor arrested after it aired a story about fighting in Unity State.
Catholic Bakhita Radio was shut down and its news editor arrested after it aired a story about fighting in Unity State.
Philip AleuNabeel Biajo

The news editor of Juba-based Bakhita Radio was released Tuesday, four days after he was detained by national security agents who also ordered the radio station to stop broadcasting.

David Nicholas Ocen was released after the Union of Journalists in South Sudan mediated on his behalf and the director of Bakhita Radio, Albino Tokwaro, sent a letter of apology to the government for a report about renewed fighting in Unity state, Tokwaro said.

The government said the report on the clashes near Bentiu, which aired on Saturday, blamed its troops for starting the fighting. The story included a quote from acting SPLA spokesman Joseph Marier Samuel, who said rebel forces started the fighting in Unity state by attacking government positions, and rebel spokesman Peter Riek Gew who said quite the opposite -- that government troops attacked positions held by his side.

Ocen and his colleagues were detained on Saturday, shortly after the story aired. Because he was the lead author of the story, Ocen was held in custody until Tuesday, while his colleagues were released after a few hours.

The government does not want us to continue with some political programs.

Tokwaro said that although Ocen was free, the radio station was still off the air. When it resumes its broadcasts, things are likely to be different, he said, because the security services have asked the Catholic church, which runs Bakhita Radio, "to go and discuss with them the modalities of the programs that will be presented."

"The government does not want us to continue with some political programs,” Tokwaro said.

Harassment of media

The East Africa representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Tom Rhodes, has said at least 10 journalists have been threatened or detained since South Sudan plunged into conflict in December.

“Security forces in various different offices act with total impunity when it comes to the press. They harass and detain journalists at will,” Rhodes said.

He said that truthful reporting has become a casualty of South Sudan’s conflict, at a time that people desperately need to know the facts.

“We are seeing such a high level of censorship that I worry the South Sudanese public are not getting an accurate picture of what’s going on,” he said.

U.S. Department of State spokeswoman Marie Harf said the United States is "monitoring the situation closely" and "urged the government of South Sudan to fully adhere to its constitutional guarantees and international obligations."

Government: Journalists free to report on conflict

South Sudan presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny insisted that journalists are free to report on the conflict in the country, as long as they respect certain limits.

“You cannot just say anything, anytime. You have to calculate the consequences of the words you want to give to the public. Just because you’re a journalist, it’s not a ticket to say anything, anytime,” he said.

On Monday, Ateny said the report aired by Bakhita Radio had left the army vulnerable and was, therefore, a violation of national security. That kind of reporting, he said, will not be tolerated by the government.

A montage of the Juba Monitor newspaper and an excerpt from the UN Plan for the Safety of Journalists. Four print runs of the Juba Monitor have been seized since South Sudan erupted in violence in December.A montage of the Juba Monitor newspaper and an excerpt from the UN Plan for the Safety of Journalists. Four print runs of the Juba Monitor have been seized since South Sudan erupted in violence in December.
x
A montage of the Juba Monitor newspaper and an excerpt from the UN Plan for the Safety of Journalists. Four print runs of the Juba Monitor have been seized since South Sudan erupted in violence in December.
A montage of the Juba Monitor newspaper and an excerpt from the UN Plan for the Safety of Journalists. Four print runs of the Juba Monitor have been seized since South Sudan erupted in violence in December.

Veteran South Sudanese journalist Jacob Akol said the government should not "pretend there is freedom of the press in South Sudan while at the same time letting the security loose on the press."

"While the media is told they are free to report anything within the law, media houses are closed and journalists are arrested, detained or intimidated by the security (services), without reference to any law," Akol told South Sudan in Focus in an email.

"This is a very unhealthy and confusing position for the media" and was creating a climate of fear, Akol said.

The U.N. humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, said in a live chat on Twitter that the United Nations was "concerned" about the shutdown of Bakhita Radio and the "apparent hardening of the media climate in South Sudan."

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs