The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) and its member, the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) denounce the indefinite closure of the Nation Mirror newspaper by South Sudan’s National Security Service (NSS).
According to a statement issued by AMDISS on September 15, 2016, authorities of the National Security Service in South Sudan summoned the management of the Nation Mirror newspaper to its head office at Jebel on September 14, 2016 and ordered the paper to cease publication with immediate effect. The management of the paper reported that there was no official reason given for the decision.
However, according to media reports, the decision to shut down the paper comes a few weeks after management of the paper was repeatedly summoned to the premises of the NSS. Additionally, the security service had demanded the removal of at least two articles from different editions of the paper before publication.
The NSS has over the years closed down media organisations for critical reporting on issues affecting the government. In 2015, the NSS closed down about five media organisations in South Sudan. The NSS has the authority to monitor communications, conduct searches and detain suspects including journalists.
AFEX joins AMDISS to condemn the closure of the newspaper as an act of intimidation and an affront to freedom of expression. The media in South Sudan has come under increased attack since the outbreak of the civil war in December 2013. Journalists and media professionals continue to work under dangerous conditions.
We call on South Sudan’s National security to re-open the newspaper unconditionally and allow the Nation Mirror newspaper to operate freely. Authorities in South Sudan must ensure the press carries out its duty without interference from any quarters. Shutting down the newspaper is a threat to free speech and an attempt to deprive citizens of their right to access to information.