In southern Sudan journalist are facing intimidation as security clamp down on reporters ahead of Sudan’s first multi-party election due to be held next month.
Agency for independent media (AIM) based in southern Sudan has recorded alarming reports of intimidation of media practitioners across the autonomous south this year, including arrests and violence.
David De Dau head of AIM says the freedom of press is under attack.
“Journalists have been arrested, harassed, intimidated, threatened, humiliated, molested, tortured and detained for no clear reason,” he told reporters in the southern capital Juba.
One journalist in Unity State was beaten after security forces grew angry at comments made by the public on a call-in show on a community radio station, Dau said.
On Wednesday last week security personnel stormed into the buildings and closed down two radio stations, Liberty FM and a community radio station Bakhita FM, after they broadcast interviews with a campaign team from independent candidate running for governor of central Equatoria.
“We are expecting more intimidation and harassment,” said Dau. A media law for the autonomous south has been drafted but its passing has been delayed by parliament, something that has infuriated many journalists.
“The harassment is not an organized move, but it is a rampant practice,” Dau said.
South Sudan Director General Information Mustafa Majak denies the allegation of harassment of journalist and closure of the radio stations.
Journalists are not seen as key players in the development of democracy in the south, but are seen as spies or agents or parties opposed to the government.
South Sudan political parties signed a code of conduct to ensure free and fair elections, which also committed them protection of journalists’ rights.
During South Sudan’s civil war with the north two million people were killed, in a conflict fuelled by religion, ethnicity, ideology, resources and oil.