South Sudan: Nine Journalists Detained for Covering SPLM-IO Press Conference

Agents of the National Security Service (NSS) of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) on Monday detained nine journalists for more than two hours after covering a press conference by SPLM-IO deputies at the Freedom Hall where the Parliament headquarters.

The SPLM-IO Parliamentary Caucus boycotted Monday’s session over what they described as the Amendment to the Political Parties Amendment Bill 2022 which was passed in late May.

The nine journalists entered the room to get a reaction from the chairman of the information committee, John Aganny Deng, after covering the SPLM-IO press conference but the security officers intercepted them and confiscated their identity cards. ‘identify.

One of the journalists who spoke to Radio Tamazuj on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals said that after being ordered to hand over their identity documents, the journalists walked towards Aganny who was sitting among d other lawmakers and asked him to resolve the altercation with security personnel. .

“He told us (reporters) to be patient saying the problem is simple and will be solved,” he said. “However, one of the NSS officers in parliament collected our press cards and ordered us to switch off our phones and put them in a bag. He (the officer) disappeared but returned shortly after and ordered us to get up and quietly walk out of the hallway.

According to the journalist, President Jemma Nunu Kumba adjourned the session after learning that SPLM-IO members had boycotted the session.

“She however stated that the reason for the SPLM-IO boycott was not genuine as the bill was passed with a majority consensus. that the chamber can no longer reintroduce the bill for deliberation after it is passed, adding that parliament does not have the mandate to return the bill for debate,” he said.

The reporter said that after the adjournment, John Aganny and the NSS officers approached them and said the SPLM-IO press conference was illegal.

“They came to us the reporters and Aganny told us that the SPLM-IO press briefing which the reporters attended outside the room was against the internal regulations on conduct of business that members of the SPLM-IO had not obtained permission to speak to the media at the parliament premises when the parliamentarians were holding a session,” he said. “He (Aganny) said that the media were not invited to cover this secondary press conference which is a protest by the way, but which the media should only focus on the session at home.”

He added, “He (Aganny) then told us to delete everything we had recorded from the press briefing of First Vice President Oyet Nathaniel on behalf of the SPLM-IO parliamentarians.”

According to another journalist, security guards then ordered them to delete all audio recordings from their recorders which they had to comply with in order to get their press IDs back and be released.

“One of the NSS officers was rude and asked if we were officially invited to come and cover parliament. He told us earlier that we were in detention and if we don’t cooperate he will do something to us that we will regret,” he said. “We were detained from around 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., which is when we were finally let go and left Freedom Hall when most of the parliamentarians had left.”

The SPLM-IO, in its press release issued to the media earlier before their arrests, said that the Transitional National Legislative Assembly, in its ordinary session No. 9/2022, passed the Law on Political Parties, the 2022 Amendment Bill without consensus and in violation of the Revitalized Peace. OK.

Therefore, the SPLM-IO said that they and other political party (OPP) parliamentary caucuses wrote to President Kumba on May 31 to oppose the amendments made to the bill by the chamber, but that the president had not responded to their letter. The speaker’s lack of response prompted the SPLM-IO parliamentary caucuses to organize a boycott of the session, the opposition said.

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