*Update: As of August 1, 2016, Alfred Taban was released on bail so he could recieve medical treatment for a previously existing condition. Read more about Taban’s release here.
On July 16, 2016, South Sudan’s National Security Services (NSS) arrested Alfred Taban, the founder and editor-in-chief of the Juba Monitor, the leading independent newspaper in South Sudan. He is currently being held without charges. The arrest is believed to be in connection to Mr.Taban’s article about the recent communiqué by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), as reported in the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project’s recent statement.
On July 11, 2016, the IGAD Council of Ministers convened its 56th session in response to the recent surge of violence in Juba, South Sudan. Mr. Taban’s arrest came one day after he published the editorial article, which criticized South Sudan’s leaders for their roles in the country’s recent violent clashes. In the article, he called for the removal of South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar, citing their unsuccessful implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement. The country has experienced renewed violence between forces loyal to Kiir and Machar, with close to 300 people already killed in the recent fighting. South Sudanese journalists have experienced increased intimidation in recent years with several newspapers being shuttered by government forces. Since 2015, at least seven journalists have been killed as a result of their reporting.
David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression has called for the releaseof Mr. Taban, saying: “The arrest and detention of Mr. Taban are unlawful as they are directly linked to the legitimate exercise of his right to freedom of expression.”
The World Movement for Democracy joins the international community in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Taban. We join organizations such as the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) in calling upon the government of South Sudan to launch a swift, transparent investigation into the targeting of journalists by agents of the country’s security branch.
Join us in calling for the release of Alfred Taban by tweeting this message: