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article imageOp-Ed: Two state broadcast journalists arrested in South Sedan

By Ken Hanly     Jan 8, 2013 in Politics
Juba - Two South Sudan state broadcast journalists have been arrested for failing to ensure coverage of a speech by President Salva Kir, according to a government official.
Journalists often complain of harassment or persecution by security forces. In 2011, authorities closed a newspaper that criticized the president for allowing his daughter to marry a foreigner. The government of Western Bahr El Ghazal state arrested two senior staff at its broadcasting stations for “administrative issues” after the station failed to cover adequately a speech by the president.
State information minister Derrick Uya told Reuters:“They were arrested simply because when the president arrived here in Wau on December 22, 2012, he gave a very, very important speech."
Given the circumstances, they could have just fired the journalists for not doing their job properly. The two arrested were not just ordinary journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists, named the two as Louis Pasquale, director-general of the state broadcaster in the state, and Ashab Khamis, director of state television.The Committee says that the two were arrested after protests and ethnic clashes last month in the town of Wau. About a dozen people were killed as security forces fired into the crowd.
Authorities may suspect that the two who were arrested provided video footage to Al Jazeera. A You Tube version of the footage is appended to this article. The two are being held in prison. Three other journalists were arrested as well but then released.
CPJ East Africa Consultant, Tom Rhodes released a statement saying:“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.”
According to a local journalist security agents had been interrogating reporters in the area to find out who had provided material to foreign news media that appears to show unarmed protesters being shot in Wau. An anonymous reporter said: “I heard they arrested the journalists because they suspect the tape comes from state television. They were worried when the tape was shown on Jazeera.”
There is no media law in South Sudan. Most of the security forces are made up of ex-guerrillas who are accustomed to acting as they wish. Last month a prominent blogger and critic of the government, Diing Chan Awuol, was shot dead by unknown assailants at his home. South Sudan has yet to see security and a free press since independence.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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