South Sudan has arrested two state broadcast journalists for failing to ensure coverage of a crucial speech by President Salva Kiir, a government official said on Sunday, prompting an outcry from an international media watchdog.
Journalists often complain of persecution by the security services of the African republic that seceded from Sudan in 2011. That year, Juba authorities closed a newspaper after it criticized Kiir for allowing his daughter to marry a foreigner.
The government of South Sudan’s Western Bahr El Ghazal state said it had detained two senior staff at its broadcaster for “administrative issues” after the station failed to cover Kiir’s visit to the town of Wau last month.
“They were arrested simply because when the president arrived here in Wau on December 22, 2012, he gave a very, very important speech,” state information minister Derrick Alfred Uya told Reuters.
The Committee to Protect Journalists [Form 990/annual report], a New York-based media watchdog, named the detained pair as Louis Pasquale, director-general of the state broadcaster in Western Bahr el Ghazal, and Ashab Khamis, director of state television.
The committee said the two had been arrested probably as part of a campaign to stop the media from investigating recent unrest in Wau. Soldiers shot dead 10 people protesting against the relocation of a local council last month, triggering more violence in the town located close to the Sudan border.