UJoSS to take legal action against journalist Jackson Ochaya’s arbitrary detention

Journalist Jackson Ochaya credit | Courtesy | File Photo

The chairman of Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJoSS)  says the union would take a legal action should the on-going talk  between the national security and media authority about the release of  newspaper reporter fails. 

Speaking to Abyei FM on Tuesday, Oliver Modi said they raised the concern over the arbitrary arrest of No-1 Citizen Newspaper journalist to Media Authority.

“If the efforts fail, then we have to seek the legal procedure, we have to appeal to legal service, we have to make sure that the media authority gives a clear information about the journalist and what are they doing about this case…….the media authority must find a way forward to ensure that this journalist is out of custody,” Modi says.

Jackson Ochaya  has been in detention at the national security service facility in Juba since last week, Modi says.. 

According to Modi, the journalist alongside his editor were summoned by national security on Monday last week over a news article on illegal gold mine of which government accused National Salvation Front (NAS).

To balance the story, the reporter interviewed NAS’ spokesperson who denied the claim. This seems to have angered the security.

Urging the government and public to cooperate with journalists, Modi says, “We journalists are not criminals, we journalists are not enemies of anybody in the republic of South Sudan…….journalists are here to serve the public  by telling the truth. Journalists are here to entertain the public. Journalists are here to educate the public.” 

Citing the media law of South Sudan, he  pointed out that any complaint related to journalist’s work should be directed to media authority-an  institution regulating the conduct of media houses in the country.  

 “We the union of journalists of South are respecting the law. The law says if there any complaint by the government, by the citizens, …. Or the market they should raise their complaints to the media authority,” he said

The chairperson of Association for Media Development in South Sudan, AMDISS, Mary Ajith also called for Ochaya’s immediate release.

Eye radio quoted her as saying, “I am calling for the release of Ochaya and if there is any case against him it should be taken to court.”

The situation under which journalists operate in South Sudan is precarious, Reporters without Borders says. The rights group said at least ten journalists were killed since 2014.

To escape arbitrary detention, torture or execution-style murder in South Sudan, a journalist must practice self-censorship, according to the report.