A journalist in South Sudan has lost his life, the journalist Peter Julius Moi was gunned down just days after Salva Kiir issued a stern warning to Media practitioners. Peter Julius Moi was an employee of the daily Independent New Nation newspaper, located in the Juba province. He was on his way back from work when he was gunned down by unknown assailants.
Eyewitnesses around the field where he was killed said the journalist was killed by two shots aimed at his back. According to witnesses nothing was taken from him by his shooters, This shooting coming only days after an open threat to journalist by president Kiir, has left a shock and one press freedom group describes the incident as a “very foreboding sign”.
President Salva Kiir issued the threat to journalists before jetting off to Ethiopia for peace talks.
“The freedom of press does not mean that you work against your country. And if anybody among them does not know this country has killed people, we will demonstrate it
one day on them,” Kiir had earlier told a news conference on Sunday, without elaborating further.
The United States has called for a thorough investigation of Peter Moi’s death and for president Kiir to renounce his comments.
“We’re very concerned about this development,” U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby, speaking to reporters in Washington, said of Peter Moi’s death. He urged South Sudanese Government “to expeditiously and thoroughly investigate this incident.”
“Separate and distinct, we are obviously deeply concerned by President Kiir’s comments regarding journalists earlier this week, and we call on him to disavow those words,” Kirby added.
Tom Rhodes, the east Africa representative for press freedom group Committee to Protect Journalists, said: “A very foreboding sign, the journalist was killed just three days after President Salva Kiir threatened to target journalists before departing for peace talks in Addis Ababa.”
“It is still too early to tell whether there is a link, but this tragedy will certainly cast a pall over independent reporting in the country as South Sudanese journalists are increasingly forced to self-censor as a means of survival,” he said.
This is adds to to the growing number of journalists who have lost their lives this year, six other journalist lost their lives in January when their vehicle ran into an ambush by unknown gunmen in the estern Bahr el Ghazal province.
Oliver Modi, chairman of the South Sudan Union of Journalists, said, “It is very serious that, this year, Peter is number seven who was killed in cold blood.”
The Sudanese Government has been on a crack down of the media lately with Several newspapers and broadcast stations being closed by the Government’s security apparatus without notice or a court warrant.
meanwhile at the talks in Ethiopia, president Kiir declined to sign a peace deal proposed by the peace-brokers to end South Sudan’s 20-month civil war, saying he had some reservations about the peace deal and needed an extra two weeks to study the terms.