New Nation newspaper and Corporate Newspaper journalist, Peter Moi Julius, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the Jebel area of Juba Wednesday evening.
South Sudan radios, Tamazuj and Eye, report that Moi, who worked with the Citizen Newspaper in 2009 before transferring to the New Nation in 2013, was killed as he headed home from work.
His body was found lying on the ground this morning, according to Eye radio, although the motive of the killing is unclear, and no one has been arrested so far.
The killing of Moi brings to 7 the number of journalists killed this year so far.
In May, a freelance journalist, Pow Reath, was shot dead in Akobo County, Jonglei State. Mr Reath’s death, according to Amnesty International, was the sixth.
Moi’s father speaks out
At around noon Thursday a police ambulance brought the body to the mortuary at Juba Teaching Hospital.
At the hospital, Moi’s father Julius Kilong told reporters he found his son’s body near UNMISS in Jebel at a place called Hai Gomaroya after receiving a phone call at about 8:30 about the shooting.
He said local residents told him they heard gunfire at around 8pm.
Julius said his son was shot twice in the back but police prevented him from looking closer at the wounds.
The elder Julius said his son had been with a girlfriend earlier in the night who lived in the same area as the journalist near the South Sudan Breweries Limited complex.
He said he was unable to contact the girlfriend so far.
Kiir had “threatened to kill journalists”
Sudan Tribune quotes the country’s president, Salva Kiir, allegedly “threatening to kill journalists for reporting against the country” on Sunday before flying to Addis Ababa to attend peace negotiations.
“If anybody among [journalists] does not know that this country has killed people, we will demonstrate it one day, one time. … Freedom of the press does not mean you work against the country,” Kiir is quoted by Sudan Tribune as saying.
Journalists bodies slam Kiir
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based organisation, condemned Kir’s statements believed to be in connection with the media’s criticism of the protracted nature of the peace negotiations and for alleging corruption in the government.
“The leader of any country threatening to kill journalists is extremely dangerous and utterly unacceptable,” said CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes.
According to CPJ, at least five journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work in South Sudan this year.
The journalists were killed by unidentified gunmen on January 25, 2015, during an ambush of as they travelled through Western Bahr al Ghazal state.
Earlier this month, security agents reportedly shuttered two privately owned newspapers, the Arabic daily Al-Rai and the English daily Citizen as well as the independent media outlet Free Voice South Sudan.
The head of the Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS) Oliver Modi said Kiir’s statement may have contributed to Peter’s murder.
“This might also been taking by some individuals and then they acted to confirm what the president has said,” he explained.
“I would appeal to the president to give a press statement against his words so that the people of the Republic of South Sudan will get convinced of what he has said because now we have already started losing journalists,” he said.
Modi said he condemned the killing and said the security agencies are responsible for protecting all citizens including journalists.
“This is not what the vision of this country,” he continued.
“When we moved from 1955 up to date the vision is very clear to establish to establish a new nation, and that was very clear in the words of the late Dr John Garang, moving from dictatorship of Khartoum regimes to a nation where we can guarantee freedom of expression, freedom of media.”