Corruption a no-go zone for journalists
By Tom Rhodes/East Africa Consultant
Last week, South Sudan's ruling party secretary-general, Pagan Amum, won an important court battle, absolving him from allegations of receiving a $30 million corrupt payment in 2006. The accusations came from former Finance Minister Arthur Akuien Chol, who alleged earlier this year that he had received orders from "above" to transfer the public money, according to local reports. The court acquitted Amum based on insufficient evidence. The money, however, remains unaccounted for, according to local reports. And the odds of any journalist in South Sudan investigating the matter further are slim.
For reporting on the corruption charges, two independent newspapers, The Citizen and Al Masir, were ordered by a court in South Sudan's capital, Juba, to pay 100,000 South Sudanese pounds (US$37,000) each in damages to Amum, local journalists told CPJ. If the papers do not publish an apology within 15 days, the court ruled, the fine would increase to 1 million South Sudanese pounds to be paid in three months.