Ceasefire Monitoring Team Attacked Amid Tenuous Peace Deal

Association

On 18th December 2018, a team from the independent Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) was assaulted and detained by government security forces in Luri area. At the time of the attack, the team was conducting its duties under its mandate to monitor the ceasefire in support of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS). The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMIS), United States, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) all condemned the attack and urged for immediate investigations in order that perpetrators are held to account.

In part, the statement issued by the United States, Norway, the United Kingdom said:

“Any action that compromises the safety, integrity, and free movement of the CTSAMVM mission is unacceptable and a breach of the September 12 peace agreement, to which the Government of South Sudan is a party.”

The situation in South Sudan remains tense despite a peace agreement signed in 2018 between warring factions. In December 2018, the US imposed new sanctions and withdrew financial support from the country, much to Juba’s chagrin. 

Expression

On 7th January 2019 the South Sudanese Media Authority ordered the Al Watan Arabic-language newspaper to stop covering the ongoing protests in neighbouring Sudan. This restrictive move to freedom of expression came after the Sudanese embassy in Juba lodged a complaint with the Media Authority, accusing the newspaper of supporting the protests in Sudan. Between 3rd and 7th January, the Al Watan published three separate reports about the Sudan protests. The regulator ordered the paper to immediately desist from "writing anything on topics relating to the ongoing protests in Sudan, which is an internal political issue of a friendly neighbouring country". In addition, the regulator also ordered the newspaper outlet to publish an official apology to the Sudanese Embassy in Juba within 72 hours, an order which the newspaper has refused.

The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) condemned the South Sudan’s Media Authority censorship, stating:

“AFEX finds the directive to the Al Watan newspaper not to cover the events in neighbouring Sudan a dangerous case of censorship. The directive clearly violates South Sudan's constitution which guarantees press freedom.”

Freedom of expression remains restricted in the young nation of South Sudan, with journalists often under threat of violence from state and non-state actors.