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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid