Reporters’ Group Wants Death of South Sudanese Journalist Probed

Reporters Without Borders called on South Sudanese authorities to investigate the death of a journalist abducted in June whose body was discovered this week, expressing concern over deteriorating press freedoms in the African nation.

Freelance journalist Issac Vuni, whose body was found Sept. 26 on a farm near the Ugandan border, had been under surveillance by South Sudanese security forces for years, the Paris-based media watchdog said Wednesday in a statement. South Sudan Liberty News reported in June that his kidnappers wore the same uniforms as a battalion that provides President Salva Kiir with bodyguards.

Deputy Information Minister Paul Akol Kordit condemned the apparent killing and vowed an investigation. “We reject any act of violence against journalists and the media,” he said by phone from the capital, Juba. “Once this incident is brought to the attention of the relevant authorities, we will take it up.”

The war-torn state is ranked 140th of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index for 2016, 15 places lower than the previous year. The organization said journalists and media outlets have been the targets of violence since the start of the civil war in 2013.

While nine journalists, including Vuni, have been killed since the conflict began, no one has been charged for their deaths, according to Oliver Modi, the chairman of South Sudan’s journalists’ union. In addition, print media are monitored by the security services and news items deemed sensitive have been replaced with advertisements, he said.

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