Home | News    Monday 7 July 2014

South Sudan security confiscates newspapers over federalism coverage


July 7, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese security operatives raided the premises of the independent Citizen newspaper, confiscating all copies of its Monday edition, the paper’s editor-in-chief said.

A newspaper vendor in South Sudan’s capital, Juba (Photo: Cafod)

“The premises of our offices was surrounded by the heavily security forces today. They came at 5.30am (local time) today in vehicles, surrounded the facility and confiscated the whole paper. They took all the 3,000 copies because we covered [the] federalism debate,” Nhial Bol Aken told Sudan Tribune.

“I don’t know why they did that. I don’t know the reasons for targeting us, when we are just doing our work, giving both sides a flat form to present their arguments,” he added.

The veteran journalist, however, said he believes his deliberate failure to honour last week’s summons by government agents may have influenced Monday’s raid on their Juba offices.

“I think they are not happy because I did not go to them last week. They wanted me to go with others but I did not go. They asked me to go with others but I told them I was not responsible for others. I don’t know the reason they wanted all the heads of the media houses. They did not explain to me and we can’t guess,” he explained.


Akren said confiscation of the papers represented huge financial losses to the company since he is expected to pay for printing and other administrative costs.

The seizure of newspapers comes barely a week after another publication was confiscated over similar issues.

A journalist working with the Citizen said security forces stormed their premises and searched distribution area, confiscating all copies of the publication, which affected its Monday edition.

He further explained that the heavily armed security forces who stormed their premises claimed they were acting on orders from the government.

“One of the security men told us that they were acting on an order from above as there were allegations that we have covered a controversial debate about federalism, which say had been stopped yet we continue to cover and make publication against the interest of the public,” the journalist who spoke on condition of anonymity told Sudan Tribune.

South Sudan’s information ministry remained silent on the raid, although its minister, Michael Makuei Lueth last week denied that a ban had been imposed on federalism debates.

A senior security officer confirmed the operations, but argued that it was over “security concerns” and not to stifle freedom of expression.

The South Sudanese government is under increasing pressure to respond to the public demand to open up space for free public about the type of the system of governance and concerns aimed at ending crisis and bringing peace.

Another security officer claimed their action to confiscate the paper was necessitated by intelligence reports allegedly implicating the newspaper in coverage of highly sensitive matters.

“There is nothing one say about this action. It is an act reminiscent of the dictatorial tendencies of which this regime always denied. But if you see what they do, it is a pure dictatorship,” an angry journalist told Sudan Tribune when asked to react to the issue.

“In this country, anybody with an alternative view is a rebel, even infants if they cry in a way that does not please the agents of this government, especially those around the president,” he added.

Aken further said that government agents did not give “any reason for their action”, but admitted that the newspaper recently published an article that was critical of the regime.

Senior members of the ruling party (SPLM) said it was against their policy to deny the public their right to access information and express their views over matters that require government attention.

“This is not a policy of the SPLM. The press freedom and freedom of expression is one of our basic values. And I believe that denying our people access to news and information sows the seeds of rumours and distrust,” said the official who asked not to be named.

“While we recognise that the country faces security threats, these can never effectively be addressed by media blackouts or persecution of journalists. I call on authorities to respect the vital role that media play in circulating information and holding government to account,” he added.

On 2 July, the information ministry issued a statement clarifying that the government had not prevented the media or members of the public from openly debating on federalism and that such debates would help shape opinions for informed decisions.


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  • 7 July 2014 22:14, by Ito

    If you are to clearly follow the news, you will notice that even those who we think support the regime are not happy with the current government. They have express their anger without giving out their names for security reasons and these are big people working with the government. Now who else like this government ya jamaa. That is why we tell you that this government is for a bunch of suckers.

    • 8 July 2014 02:07, by Gat Gan Kiir

      They prevents the current news to be published, but they are not aware that they are creating news by itself, I mean since they took those papers yesterday, today we have breaking news.

      • 8 July 2014 06:35, by Mi diit

        But do you believe what info minister Lueth (Liar) says? He says this and does the opposite. Juba thugs are picking on the wrong fight against the media and freedom of the press and expression. They will lose it too.

  • 8 July 2014 02:54, by Makuen Ci Nhomwan

    Government have the right to suspend that news paper which spread rumurs and supports to the rebels. I even agreed to be shutdown immediately we don,t want rumurs monger dealer news paper in this country shame on them.

    • 8 July 2014 08:53, by Kumbo

      Makuen Ci Nhomwan I’m sure you are one of the affected people if Federalism is form to govern the people of South Sudan you been living eating on civilian flash and drinking from Civilians blood of this Country together with your mother Salva Kiir coz I know your father is Wani Igga that is why you are supporting him against federal system why is it hard to accept federal system yaa Makuen?

      • 8 July 2014 19:50, by Makuen Ci Nhomwan

        @ Kumbo. My friend you always preach 4 negative issues why bcoz federal system of governance according to mr. presendent is the redline. Even you and your father dr.Riek will not benefited it is another redline we don,t want more south sudanese to continue dying. Federalism is at the line with centralization. Please shut your rotten mouth and 4get about it no way. Iknows you Equartorian behave lik

  • 8 July 2014 03:53, by Dengda

    The question is why fought for twenty one years with khartoum regime and lost 3 millions lives, if we still endorsed the regime we bow to change is become the norm? For ruling system without media, opposition and publics voice! It’s a dictatorial regime.

    • 8 July 2014 05:19, by Akook

      Why is it a threat to government anyway. These are not rebels but citizens discussing what would be the best system of government for them to be governed! I think the government think they are the ones, not citizens to choose for us how they will govern us. Interesting... dictatorship!

      • 8 July 2014 08:41, by Mr Point

        The SPLM fought for twenty years to bring freedom to South Sudan.

        But not freedom for the ordinary person to have political views different from the elected leaders.

        • 8 July 2014 08:57, by Kumbo

          Mr Point, you are a fool what is freedom if I may ask you?
          wass it not the same thing which took Dr Garrang to the Bush for 21 yrs I think you don’t know the history of South Sudan I should not waste my time on you to ask you who are Ordinary People you think Dinka are the only citizen of South Sudan?
          if so why are they hiring UPDF and other mercenaries to fight on their behalf you fool

  • 8 July 2014 08:02, by Martin

    Sudan Tribune contributors, please stop posting lies. I bought the Citizen newspaper Monday 7 July 2014. How can you claim the confiscation of newspapers while they are on sales on the same day. Also federalism system government is not paper thing.

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