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Journalists kidnapped, detained in Burundi, South Sudan and newspapers stopped in Sudan

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JournalismWeeks after a maiden side event of The African Editors’ Forum (TAEF), took place at the just-ended 27th African Union Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, and editors called on the AU to prevail on member-states to stop harassing and persecuting journalists, some journalists have been kidnapped and detained, in Burundi and South Sudan and authorities in Sudan have stopped daily newspapers from going into circulation.

Jean Bigirimana has gone missing in Burundi since the afternoon of Friday July 22, 2016. Sources in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura suspect he was kidnapped by the security services and his whereabouts are unknown.

It is also not known what his offence is, but Burundi has descended into conflict when last year President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he was putting aside the constitution of the country to run for a third term. Following his decision, some soldiers attempted to overthrow him in a coup which failed. Burundi has since been tense with reported assassinations of some individuals and some key political figures. More than half a million citizens have fled the country.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has reported the arrest of Michael Christopher in the South Sudanese capital of Juba.

Christopher, who is the editor-in-chief of the independent Arabic-language daily al-Watan, was arrested by the National Security Service on July 23, 2016, after his paper allegedly published an inaccurate report, according to the website of Radio Tamazuj.

Fighting has been going on in Juba between the supporters of President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar, who has since fled the capital and has been replaced with Taban Deng Gai.

Citing a local rights group CPJ said, Alfred Taban, the editor-in-chief of Juba Monitor, was also charged and denied bail on July 24 over a column about the fighting, and two other journalists told CPJ they have been attacked.

“We urge President Salva Kiir to take all necessary steps to protect journalists in South Sudan and to ensure that their right to freedom of expression is not violated,” CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal, was quoted as saying.

In Sudan, the authorities have stopped two daily newspapers from going into circulation after they have been printed.

Sources in Sudan say the newspapers Alssiha and Altagheer have been stopped from being distributed by the intelligence services and no reasons have been assigned.

Some journalists, who wouldn’t want to be named for fear of reprisals, tell ghanabusinessnews.com that, the actions would continue for sometime, and it is how the authorities punish publishers considered unfriendly to the government of President Omar al-Bashir.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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