Speaking Truth to Power – a Crime in South Sudan



A leading Sudanese journalist has been released on bail so he could receive medical treatment for a previously existing condition.

On July 16, South Sudanese national security agents arrested Alfred Taban (left), editor in chief of the Juba Monitor, for two editorials calling for removal of President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar, respectively, in the wake of renewed fighting around Juba, writes Jehanne Henry, Senior Researcher for Human Rights Watch’s Africa Division:

Taban did not mince words, saying the two leaders had “completely failed” to implement the terms of the August 2015 peace agreement. “Instead of Juba being demilitarized, it was completely militarized,” he wrote.

Samantha Power, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations tweeted that Taban – a recipient of the 2006 National Endowment for Democracy award – was “unjustly detained in Juba for critical reporting.”. “Urge #SouthSudan to #FreeAlfredTaban” she added.

Ann Nimiriano, co-editor of the Juba Monitor newspaper, told The Associated Press that the elderly Taban remains in hospital where he was transferred while in detention.

Taban’s arrest is unlawful and he must be released, said the United Nations expert on freedom of expression.

“The arrest and detention of Mr. Taban are unlawful as they are directly linked to the legitimate exercise of his right to freedom of expression,” U.N. expert David Kaye said.

“Any pressure against journalists based on the content of their reporting represents regressive steps that South Sudan cannot afford to take,” he said.

The arrest is believed to be in connection to Mr.Taban’s article about the recent communiqué by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), as reported in the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project’s recent statement, the World Movement for Democracy adds.

“South Sudanese authorities should immediately release Mr Taban, and ensure that he has not been subjected to ill treatment and has been given access the medical care he needs,” said Hassan Shire of DefendDefenders. “This latest arrest is yet another unacceptable attack on free speech at a time when the country needs it most.” Journalists face extremely precarious working conditions in South Sudan, and are regularly targeted through intimidation, harassment, arbitrary detention, torture and, at times, extrajudicial killings. On 11 July, journalist John Gatluak Manguet Nhial was shot dead by armed men at the Terrain Hotel in Juba, in what is believed to be an ethnically motivated killing. According to his family’s representative, he and his colleagues were attacked at their work place, but only he was shot dead after being identified as a member of the Nuer tribe….

Amnesty International is urging concerned individuals to:

1) Please write immediately in English, Arabic or your own language:

Calling on the South Sudanese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Alfred Taban;

Urging them to ensure that, pending his release, Alfred Taban is not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment and is allowed access to his family, a lawyer of his choosing and any medical care he may require;

Calling on them to repeal or amend laws that criminalize the legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression.

2) For the full Urgent Action, including appeal addresses and further information, please click on the Word or PDF version below.

3) Please let us know if you took action so that we can track our impact!

EITHER send a short email to uan@aiusa.org with “UA 170/16” in the subject line, and include in the body of the email the number of letters and/or emails you sent;

OR fill out this short online form to let us know how you took action.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email