Accessibility links

Breaking News

South Sudan Reporter Freed But Charged


FILE: VOA freelance reporter Diing Magot. Date image taken unknown.

South Sudan authorities released VOA freelance reporter Diing Magot on Monday after detaining her for more than a week. But she is facing unspecified charges.

After a week in Jail, Diing Magot is now free. But she has not finished her legal tangle.

Daniel Justin Boulo Achor, a spokesperson for South Sudan's national police, told the Committee to Protect Journalists [CPJ] that authorities had charged Magot with crimes related to her alleged participation in a protest. Achor said he could not "remember exactly" the charges.

Magot’s defense lawyer David Ayuwel confirmed Magot and the six protesters were released on bail Monday. Asked whether authorities charged Magot with an offense, Ayuwel declined to comment.

“I may not be able to answer right now but all we know is that they have been granted bail and if there are any other proceedings that will happen, they will be informed,” Ayuwel told South Sudan in Focus.

Ayuwel urged authorities to respect the rights of citizens as stipulated in the South Sudan transitional constitution and called on young people to practice their civil rights under the law.

Plain clothes security agents arrested Magot at Nyokuron on Sunday June 7 shortly after she interviewed a small group of young people who were peacefully protesting at the Konyokonyo market over soaring food prices.

Police claimed Magot did not have press credentials. She was detained at the Malakia police station for three days, then transferred to Juba Central Prison.

Diing Magot’s sister Ayen Magot tells South Sudan In Focus her sister’s detention mentally tortured the whole family but is relieved she is finally released and thanked the authorities who worked to secure her freedom.

“I have seen Diing and she is happy that she is released. This is all thanks to everyone who was involved in trying to get her out and all thanks to God for allowing her to get out unharmed and she is free at last,” said Magot.

"In South Sudan, it’s easy to get sent to jail but complicated to get out," said Patrick Oyet, chairperson of the Union of Journalists of South Sudan.

Oyet advised journalists to be careful especially when covering protests, but said Magot's detention should not deter other journalists from covering events.

“It should not scare anybody. It is unfortunate but one positive thing is that the law is there.," he said, adding "Another thing is that we have seen and received a lot of support from other media organizations, we have even got support from political leaders, and we got support from the bar association and various law firms."

Ovet also stated "This shows us that there are people who are together when it comes to freedom of expression and journalism work.”

The journalists' group head urged authorities to widen the media space so that journalists can freely report on developments, including the revitalized peace agreement and upcoming elections.

Ayuwel urged authorities to respect the rights of citizens as stipulated in the South Sudan transitional constitution and called on young people to practice their civil rights under the law.

Elijah Alier Kuai, managing director of the South Sudan Media Authority declined to comment on Magot’s case but acknowledged that Voice of America immediately informed authorities Magot was a journalist affiliated with the agency.

“The police said they can’t be able to release because she been taken to prison, so then have to follow up with the ministry of justice to release the journalist and then we will be able to handle the case," he told South Sudan in Focus.

"We can’t issue a statement now (but) we have confirmed with Voice of America that she was assigned to do the coverage and then the rest of the questions will be handled by the Media Authority,” Kuai told VOA.

XS
SM
MD
LG