(Deutsche Welle) Internet and mobile phone users in South Sudan are not able to access the websites of at least four independent media outlets. The government has grown increasingly hostile to the media since civil war began in 2013.
The government is said to have blocked access to the websites of Dutch-backed Radio Tamazuj, as well as the popular news blogs Nyamilepedia and Paanluel Wel. Internet users said that the website of the Paris-based Sudan Tribune was also affected on some mobile phone and Wi-Fi networks.
Radio Tamazuj and the Sudan Tribune are reputable sites which have been critical in their coverage of South Sudan’s government, which has grown increasingly hostile towards the media since civil war broke out in 2013.
The government is justified in blocking the websites to protect citizens from outlets that “disseminate subversive material,” South Sudan’s Minister of Authorities Michael Makuei Lueth told the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
The bans would not be lifted until “those institutions behave well,” he told CPJ.
“Censoring news and intimidating journalists is becoming increasingly common in South Sudan,” said CPJ deputy executive director Robert Mahoney. “The government should immediately unblock all news sites and blogs.”
Radio Tamazuj said its shortwave broadcasts can still be heard.
Early last week, South Sudan’s National Security Service arrested the director of the country’s state television. The wife of Adil Faris Mayat said she believed it was because he refused to transmit a live broadcast of a speech by President Salva Kiir during Independence Day celebrations. He was released after 10 days.
The arrest of Adil Faris Mayat underscores the worsening situation for journalists in South Sudan.
South Sudan – Africa’s youngest state – is in the middle of a merciless armed conflict pitting loyalist forces to rebels led by former VP Riek Machaar. The United Nations believes that a major genocide is currently taking place in this country.
Photo: International Media Support