RSF – 11-02-2016
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Joseph Afandi, a journalist with the Juba-based daily newspaper Al-Tabeer, who has been held without charge for more than six weeks.
Since being arrested at the newspaper in the early hours of 28 December, Afandi has been held at the headquarters of the National Security Service (NSS) in Juba.
His family has still not been allowed to talk to him and is very concerned for his physical condition. Treatment of detainees in South Sudan is such that his relatives fear that he may have been mistreated and beaten.
Afandi has not been allowed access to a lawyer, he has not been taken before a judge and no charge has been brought against him to justify his detention, which is clearly arbitrary.
An article he wrote in December criticized the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and the government’s passive response to the civil war that has been ravaging the country since December 2013.
Al-Tabeer stopped publishing after Afandi’s arrest and its editor, Wazir Michael, announced that he was resigning in an attempt to appease the NSS. The newspaper, which has not resumed publishing, was launched to replace Michael’s previous newspaper, Al-Rai, which the authorities closed earlier last year.
“Holding Joseph Afandi incommunicado is completely illegal under international law and South Sudan’s own laws,a nd violates the journalists rights to a fair trial,” said Clea Kahn-Sriber, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “If the government is unable to say what this journalist is charged with, he must be released at once.”
The situation in South Sudan has worsened dramatically since the start of the civil war. The authorities have banned any critical coverage of their actions or any interview with rebel groups, although a peace accord has now been signed.
In August 2015, RSF criticized President Salva Kiir’s threats against the media and the impunity for violence and abuses against journalists. South Sudan is ranked 125th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
RSF- 11 February 2016