South Sudanese Journalist Found Beaten, Tortured
Nairobi, March 8, 2016 - South Sudanese authorities should immediately launch an independent, thorough investigation into the abduction and torture of journalist Joseph Afandy and punish those responsible, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Colleagues found Afandy dumped near a graveyard in Juba today, beaten and bearing the marks of torture, according to press accounts
Witnesses told South Sudan's Eye Radio that men in a white sport utility vehicle without number plates abducted the Afandy on March 4. Friends and family heard nothing from him until March 8, when he phoned his colleague Ibrahim Awuol to tell him he had been beaten and dumped by a graveyard in Juba, Awuol told Eye Radio. Edward Terso, secretary general of South Sudan's Union of Journalists, told Juba's Radio Bakhita that the journalist had been badly beaten and burned. Images published in South Sudan's media confirmed that account, showing Afandy, who has been admitted to hospital for treatment, with multiple burn marks on his thighs.
"We call on authorities to credibly investigate this horrible crime against our colleague, Joseph Afandy, to hold the perpetrators to account, and to ensure the journalist's safety," said Robert Mahoney CPJ's deputy executive director. "No one should have to endure what this young man has survived."
Afandy worked as an editor at the daily El Tabeer before National Security Service agents arrested him in Juba on December 30, 2015, and verbally instructed other employees to stop publishing the newspaper. Authorities released the editor without charge on February 19, after nearly two months of incommunicado detention. The reasons for his detention were unclear, but according to the rights organization Amnesty International , Afandy had published an article in El Tabeer on December 23, 2015, criticizing the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, the ruling party.
CPJ research shows that journalists working in South Sudan are subject to arbitrary arrests and threats. In August, President Salva Kiir publicly threatened to kill journalists for reporting "against the country." In January 2015, five journalists were killed in an ambush on a political convoy in Western Bahr al Ghazal state. CPJ is investigating the killings of two other journalists during 2015 to determine if they were work-related.
CPJ is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.