Juba frees UN journalist after three-year detention without trial

Monday May 29 2017


Authorities in South Sudan have released a United Nations radio journalist who has been in detention for nearly three years without trial.

George Livio was arrested in August 2014 in South Sudan’s Wau town while on duty and brought to Juba where he has been in detention.

He was released on May 26 without charges.

In a statement to the media, the office of the spokesperson of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) welcomed the release of Mr

Livio and urged the South Sudan government to respect human rights as enshrined in the country's transitional Constitution.

“UNMISS continues to urge the South Sudanese authorities to respect national laws and the fundamental principles of due process under international human rights law,” the statement reads.

Press freedom

Petro Charles, a journalist based in Juba described the release of Mr Olivio as an important step towards press freedom in the fragile nation.

“The country cannot stand without the media. The government should not look at media as a spy but a builder of democracy,” he said.

He called upon the government to end the war against media so as to hold an effective National Dialogue across the country.

Last week, a South Sudanese veteran journalist Alfred Taban declined to join the National Dialogue Committee saying that he would only do so if President Salva Kiir set Mr Olivio free and ended the aggression against media practitioners.

It remains unclear whether Mr Taban will now join the National Dialogue Committee following the release of Mr Olivio.


Attacks against journalists in South Sudan have hit record high since 2011 when the young nation seceded from Sudan.

More than 10 journalists have lost their lives, some in the line of duty. A crackdown on the media has also forced several others into exile.

Last month, the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS), an umbrella for all media houses, urged President Kiir to take the lead in stopping the harassment of journalists.

In a petition delivered to the Office of the President, AMDISS demanded the release of journalists who were still in detention in line with President Kiir’s promise that political detainees would be freed to take part in the country's National Dialogue.