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The UN denounces impunity in the murders of journalists during the civil war in South Sudan

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The UN recently denounced the situation that journalists and media workers have to face in South Sudan after the latest attacks and murders committed against them in recent years are still unresolved.

Also, Jackson Ochaya who works for the Number One Citizen newspaper in Juba is being held by security under unknown circumstances, the chairperson of the Union of Journalists in South Sudan has said.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights on extrajudicial executions, Agnès Callamard, has pointed out that the absence of adequate investigations to purge responsibilities in this type of crime sends a “very dangerous signal” of impunity.

“Three years is too long to leave a grieving family without answers,” Callamard has denounced in relation to the murder of British-American journalist Christopher Allen, killed by the Armed Forces of South Sudan while working in the country on August 26, 2017.

While images of Allen’s lifeless body were disseminated through the network, senior officials of the Government of South Sudan “justified” the murder, Callamard said, calling the journalist “rebel and criminal”, in addition to accusing him having entered the country illegally.

“His family is still looking for answers about the circumstances of his death, as well as responsibilities,” he said.

“The investigation of crimes committed against journalists, not only in South Sudan but throughout the world, is a key element in preventing future attacks and ending impunity,” he said in a statement.

Callamard has pointed out that Allen’s case is not unique in South Sudan, as at least ten other journalists have been killed with impunity while carrying out their work during the civil war, without yet being held accountable for these crimes.

That is why Callamard has urged the South Sudanese authorities to carry out the recommendations that the United Nations sent them on January 30 in relation to this murder.

However, in the absence of a response to this brief, as well as an investigation by South Sudan, Callamard has requested the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to launch an independent investigation into the murder.

“The governments of South Sudan and the United States can and should take steps to ensure that the circumstances of Mr. Allen’s assassination are fully, independently and fearlessly investigated,” he stressed.

“The FBI has a duty, both legal and moral, to investigate the murder of Mr. Allen as there are well-founded suspicions that members of the South Sudanese forces may have committed war crimes,” he insisted.

As for the United Kingdom, Allen had dual British-American nationality, Callamard has appreciated “the concern” shown by the Government of London, but has clarified that such statements “are not enough” and has encouraged the authorities to carry out an investigation.

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