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South Sudanese Authorities Must Release Detained Journalists
Freedom House condemns the arrest and calls for the immediate release of Louis Pasquale, director-general of the state broadcasting service in Western Bahr el Ghazal state of South Sudan, and director of state television, Ashab Khamis.
Government officials claimed they detained the journalists for “administrative issues” after their stations failed to broadcast a speech given by President Salva Kiir. Pasquale and Khamis are being held without charge at the Meir al Bahr prison in Wau, South Sudan. Three other journalists working with the state broadcaster were arrested last week, but were later released by authorities.
“We are worried by increasing reports of harassment and detention of journalists over the past few months, which suggests backsliding in the level of official respect for media freedom,” said Karin Karlekar, project director of the Freedom of the Press survey at Freedom House.
South Sudan was evaluated for the first time in the 2012 edition of Freedom House’s annual survey Freedom of the Press, receiving a rating of Partly Free. The arrest of Pasquale, Khamis and several other journalists comes after continued unrest in a country plagued by violence since its secession from Sudan in 2011. Persecution of journalists, particularly those covering the December 2012 violence in Wau, is on the rise as the government resorts to censorship in an attempt to prevent coverage of ethnic clashes occurring in the country.
Freedom in the World 2012: South Sudan
Freedom of the Press 2012: South Sudan