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Press freedom under attack
Bishop slams South Sudanese government for attacks on journalists

Joseph Oduha
Roman Catholic Bishop Santo Loku Pio voiced sharp criticism at South Sudanese authorities, warning that journalists are increasingly threatened and attacked and press freedoms are shrinking fast.
16.09.2015  |  Juba, South Sudan
Bishop Santo Loku Pio in Juba, March 20, 2012.  (photo: The Niles | Joseph Oduha)
Bishop Santo Loku Pio in Juba, March 20, 2012. (photo: The Niles | Joseph Oduha)

Following media reports that two journalists were killed in recent weeks, the influential Bishop addressed safety and press freedoms, arguing that the outlook for the media is in steep decline.

Cases of injustice against journalists increase daily.”

“I have been seeing and hearing that safety and protection of journalists in the country is worsening as cases of injustice against journalists increase daily,” he said during at speech at St. Theresa Cathedral Church in Juba. “What happen to us South Sudanese? Are we really Christians?”

His comments followed reports on Radio Tamazuj that a former radio reporter James Tito Magas was among seven other people killed in Maridi, making him the eighth journalist killed this year. Last month journalist Julius Peter Moi was killed when unknown gunmen shot him twice in the back near his home.

Another two are behind bars, Clement Lochio, who reported for the Gurtong website in Eastern Equatoria State and George Livio, a journalist for the United Nations’ Radio Miraya, who is also being held in Western Bhar el-Ghazal State.

The catholic bishop urged South Sudanese to adopt a spirit of forgiveness. “Stop killing journalists and work together to serve the nation in your different professions without hating each other,” he said.

Stop killing journalists and work together.”

Bishop Loku believes that impunity against those attacking journalists emboldens the perpetrators of the crimes and has a chilling effect on society, as perpetrators often go unpunished.

In his speech, the influential bishop cautioned all leaders to ensure full implementation of the recently signed peace accord, which would end more than 20 months of violence across the country, which has killed thousands. “Yes, thank you for signing the peace deal but you must implement it and protect it from those who want to steal and destroy it,” he said.

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