The government of the United States of America has asked the South Sudan president, Salva Kiir, to withdraw his threat to kill journalists.
The spokesman of the US Department of State, John Kirby, said at a press briefing in Washington that the US government was closely following attacks on press in South Sudan and is deeply concerned.
Moi Julius, a journalist working with Corporate newspaper and The New Nation, was found dead yesterday morning, having been shot the night before near his place of work, days after Kiir threatened to kill journalists.
“Our embassy in Juba is following this situation very closely. Our condolences, of course, go out to his family, friends, and media colleagues. We call on the South Sudanese authorities and security services to expeditiously and thoroughly investigate this incident,” Kirby told press.
“We do not want to speculate on the nature of the incident or any connections there may be to other matters.”
Kirby said US was deeply concerned by President Kiir’s comments regarding journalists earlier this week, and called on him to disavow those words.
“The United States is committed to supporting freedom of expression, including of the press. Space for media, civil society organizations, and independent voices and views are crucial to building democracy and peace.”
Kiir committed a crimes?
The international group Reporters Without Borders says threats against journalists in South Sudan is a crime.
“Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the situation in South Sudan,” the group said.
Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders said, “It is absolutely criminal for a president to threaten his country’s journalists with death.
“Certain words can kill, especially when uttered by a president,” the group said, referring to Kiir’s recent remarks about journalists accused of disloyalty to the country.
“We urge Salva Kiir to quickly retract his comments and to issue a strong statement condemning crimes of violence against journalists. He has clearly played a role in the decline in the general security situation for journalists.”
“As regards Peter Moi’s murder, South Sudan’s authorities must ensure that an independent, impartial and thorough investigation is carried out in order to quickly provide Moi’s family with answers.”
Journalists plan media blackout
Some journalists and media houses in South Sudan are considering various measures to protest the killing of one of their peers on Wednesday, including the possibility of a media blackout for three days.
Radio Tamazuj, reports that the Committee to Protect Journalists says “Journalists are planning a media blackout for three days in protest at the killing of Moi.”
Additionally, journalists may not cover the government-organized anti-IGAD rallies scheduled for today.
Some media houses have already been suspended forcibly or on verbal orders from the National Security Service, including The Citizen, Al Rai, Nation Mirror and Free Voice.
Meanwhile, The Niles, an online outlet, already announced its own decision to suspend publishing voluntarily during a period of mourning.
“In solidarity with the journalists of South Sudan, The Niles suspends publishing and reporting for three days, following the killing of our colleague Moi Peter Julius,” the media house said.