Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF) is appalled by the detention of Jackson Ochaya and the unabated threats against South Sudanese No. 1 Citizen Newspapers.
On 31st August 2020, Jackson Ochaya and Kiden Stella Mandela, the acting manager for No. 1 Citizen Newspaper, were summoned by the National Security Service (NSS) for questioning over an article involving the National Salvation Front NAS; the journalists were released same day 31st August 2020.
Jackson was declared missing after he left the office on September 1 to go see his uncle, his family had searched for him for days until they found him on 5th September being questioned at the NSS ofice.
“Ochaya Jackson had written an article and was published on Tuesday 25th August 2020 with the headline of “Army accuse NAS of illegal gold mining, NAS denies”.
“He balanced the story by talking to the NAS spokesperson to get their version of the story, and it was indicated in the story that No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper spoke to NAS on the phone, the national security said the story shows that there was a direct phone contact with the NAS spokesperson and how did he get the phone number? and, which code did he use for the communication?” said No. 1 Citizen Newspapers.
AMDF confirmed that the journalist has not been charged, neither does anyone know how he is faring and no one including the family have been allowed to see him.
It is unfortunate that authorities now see journalism as a threat than a means to a more peaceful and developed society.
Ochaya acted in good faith like any other good journalist would do by giving a balance to his story, which has regrettably led to his detention. The role of Journalists in peace building cannot be overemphasized hence, it is important that they are allowed to be objective and unbiased in their writing.
AMDF reviewed with concerns the conditions given by authority and the warnings to the media organization for reporting on similar issues.
We are calling on South Sudanese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Jackson Ochaya and end the arbitrary harassment and detention of journalists in the country.
Authorities must stop interfering with news gathering process and allow journalists to carry out their professional obligations without fear or bias.
The NAS is a South Sudanese militant group fighting against the government of South Sudan.