CITIZENS COMPASS– SOUTH Sudan authorities have arrested six journalists over the circulation of a viral video appearing to show President Salva Kiir wetting himself.
In December, a video showing Kiir urinating on himself as the national anthem played at a function was shared on social media.
The circulation of the video led to the arrest of the journalists.
Patrick Oyet, president of the South Sudan Union of Journalists, told Reuters that the reporters were “suspected of having knowledge on how the video of the president urinating himself came out”.
Oyet said the detained journalists are Joseph Oliver and Mustafa Osman (camera operators), Victor Lado (video editor); Jacob Benjamin (contributor); and Cherbek Ruben and Joval Toombe from the control room.
Meanwhile, the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC) where the journalists work said the footage was never aired.
Also, on Friday, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a media rights group, made a call for the journalists’ release, adding that the six staff from the state broadcaster were detained during the week.
Muthoki Mumo, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, also called for the unconditional release of the journalists.
According to Mumo, the arrest was “a pattern of security personnel resorting to arbitrary detention whenever officials deem coverage unfavourable”.
However, Michael Makue, South Sudan’s information minister, said people would have to wait to know why the journalists were detained.
The rights groups have frequently called on the South Sudanese authorities to stop harassing and threatening journalists.
Since the outbreak of violence in 2013, the country’s media environment has been described by civil society groups as a “dangerous” terrain for journalists.
Some journalists in South Sudan were said to have abandoned their profession; many others have reportedly fled the country.