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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 102

South Sudan Authorities Arrest Prominent Journalist Alfred Taban

Alfred Taban and Ana Namiriano, the editor of the Juba Monitor newspaper, were summoned to the headquarters of the security services in Juba on 16 July.

Namiriano was allowed to leave after questioning but Taban (who founded the Juba Monitor in 2000, when it was called the Khartoum Monitor) was detained without any formal charge being brought against him.

He is currently being held without charges.

According to the Uganda Journalists Union (UJU), an IFJ affiliate, Taban was arrested in relation to an article that he wrote in his weekly column “Let’s Speak Out”. In his article he called for the removal of President Salva Kiir and Vice President, Riek Machar, accusing both of them of failing to control troops loyal to them which have resulted in the loss of lives and property.

“The arrest of Alfred Taban is a serious threat to freedom of expression and freedom of the press” said IFJ President, Philippe Leruth. “Such arrests are desperate signs of intimidation designed to muzzle the media and journalists. Such repressive highhandedness is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. South Sudan must do more to create a conducive environment for the media to play its role of upholding democracy in the country”.

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.

On July 11, 2016, the IGAD Council of Ministers convened its 56th session in response to the recent surge of violence in Juba, South Sudan.

Mr. Taban's arrest came one day after he published the editorial article, which criticized South Sudan's leaders for their roles in the country's recent violent clashes. In the article, he called for the removal of South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar, citing their unsuccessful implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement.

The country has experienced renewed violence between forces loyal to Kiir and Machar, with close to 300 people already killed in the recent fighting.

South Sudanese journalists have experienced increased intimidation in recent years with several newspapers being shuttered by government forces.

Since 2015, at least seven journalists have been killed as a result of their reporting. David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, has called for the release of Mr. Taban, saying: "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."

The World Movement for Democracy joins the international community in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Taban. We join organizations such as the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) in calling upon the government of South Sudan to launch a swift, transparent investigation into the targeting of journalists by agents of the country's security branch.

- Asian Tribune -

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