President Salva Kiir of South Sudan has threatened to kill journalists who are reporting ‘against’ their country.
During a press encounter on Sunday, while heading for the peace talks in Addis Ababa, he dismissed complaints about the lack of press freedom in his country.
He told reporters: “I was wondering how does the information get to them (the journalists) but this is what I said here – now to the people who are getting out – the media and when you close them they go and complain that there is no expression, no freedom. But the freedom of press does not mean that you work against your country. And if anybody among them does not know this country has killed people, we will demonstrate it one day on them.”
Follow the recording here, Kiir promising to kill journalists:
In May the information minister, Michael Makuei, vowed that the government would take journalists to court, while noting that this would not stop the National Security Service from remaining involved.
“Any freedom comes with responsibility,” he stressed.
“Up to now we have not taken any journalist to the court but we will do so. Yes, we will do so. Because they are being taken to the court all over the world. It is only South Sudan where they have not taken anybody up to now.”
The National Security has closed several newspapers and media houses in South Sudan without notification or arrest warrant.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned the statements of the South Sudanese president.
“The leader of any country threatening to kill journalists is extremely dangerous and utterly unacceptable,” said CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes in a press statement on Monday.
“We call on President Salva Kiir to retract his comments immediately.”
At least five journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work in South Sudan this year, according to CPJ research.
The journalists were killed by unidentified gunmen on January 25, 2015, during an ambush of an official convoy traveling through Western Bahr al Ghazal state, according to reports.