Western Bahr el Ghazal State Journalists Released: Minister

The Western Bahr el Ghazal State Information Communication and Broadcasting Minister, Alfred Derik Oya has announced that the state security organs have released the four journalists who were arrested for failing to ensure coverage of a crucial speech by President Salva Kiir.

Western Bahr el Ghazal State Journalists Released: Minister
State Information Communication and Broadcasting Minister, Alfred Derik Oya said the journalists were only called for investigations on why they failed to make records during the president’s speech. [James Deng Dimo]

 By James Deng Dimo

WAU, 07 January 2013 [Gurtong ] -  The minister said that the four officials; Director of Radio and TV Mr. Louis Pasquale Aleu, Director of Radio Mr Alor Deng Koor, Chief News Editor Mr. Kamilio Luciano Jarban and Photographer Michael Lourance were arrested and released on Wednesday evening after the two stations failed to broadcast the speech of President Salva Kiir when he was addressing a public rally in Wau.

He said the journalists were only called for investigations to answer why they failed to make productive records during the president’s speech on 24 December 2012.

“It was very disappointing for the state government to notify on that day that the whole government media in the state did nothing in covering the president’s visit, despite a lot of political vacuum and the recent issue on Wau County dispute. The state government has a right to question these journalists of why they failed,” said Oya.

I was really disappointed to see on that day when the security ask us to go to their office while we were administratively investigating  our field journalists why they come back to the office without any recorded speech from the president, said

Radio Wau Director, Alor Deng Koor said that the journalist should have been given a chance to find out what happened administratively instead of involving the security officers.
 
“It was a technical failure with our recorders used by our journalists but at the end of the day, we really managed to broadcast the president speech through our collective efforts with Voice of Hope radio in Wau,” said Louis Pasquale Aleu, the Radio and TV director.

Aleu said that the state governor told them that they were arrested because they have failed the cover the speech by the president.
 
 Journalists often complain of persecution by the security services in South Sudan.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based media watchdog, named the detained pair as Louis Pasquale, director-general of the state broadcaster in Western Bahr el Ghazal, and Ashab Khamis, director of state television.

The committee said the two had been arrested probably as part of a campaign to stop the media from investigating recent unrest in Wau. Soldiers shot dead 10 people protesting against the relocation of a local council last month, triggering more violence in the town located close to the Sudan border.

"We call on authorities to release Louis Pasquale and Ashab Khamis immediately, and allow journalists to cover events in the state without facing intimidation or arrest," CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes said in a statement.

A local journalist said security agents had been pressuring reporters in Wau to find out who had provided foreign news channels such as Qatar's Jazeera English with a tape which purportedly shows the shooting of unarmed protesters in Wau.

South Sudan is a country with no media law, making it difficult for reporters to get information.

Last month, unknown gunmen shot dead prominent blogger and government critic Diing Chan Awuol also known as Isaiah Abraham at his home.

France-based Reporters Without Borders ranked South Sudan 111th out of 179th in its 2011-2012 press freedom index.

Click here to purchase the current edition of the Gurtong Focus Monthly to read more about the South Sudanese media environment in 2012.

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