South Sudan Newspaper Editor Arrested for Defying Court Order

The editor-in-chief of South Sudan’s oldest English-language newspaper, the Juba Monitor, has been arrested for allegedly defying a court order to stop publication over alleged malpractice.   

Anna Namiriano was arrested Tuesday afternoon after not acting on an order issued last week by Juba’s Kator High Court to shut down the paper. She reportedly was being held at Juba’s central prison.   

The case involves a dispute between the newspaper’s management and the family of its late founder, veteran journalist Alfred Taban, who died in April 2019. Taban’s family had filed a lawsuit in 2020 against the independent newspaper’s managers and its publisher, Grand Media Africa, accusing them of mismanaging the paper’s ownership and resources. 

The family has sought restrictions on the newspaper’s activities until the case is resolved.   

Last week, the Kator High Court suspended the Juba Monitor’s activities, said Becu Pitia Lagu, an attorney representing the Taban family.   

“Anna deliberately refused to implement the court ruling which was passed on the date 13th of this month asking her to close down the newspapers, cease the activities of the company,” Pitia told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus.   

Lazarus Yuggu, an attorney representing Namiriano, said the court never informed his client or the publisher of the shutdown order. He called his client’s arrest illegal.   

“There is no reason why the judge issued that order,” Yuggu told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus. “There is no court contempt at all, because all of us were present at the court. I think this company is not actually a foreign company, whereby a judge may suspect [someone] of absconding or running away from the jurisdiction or something of that kind. The parties are present before the judge.”  

Yuggu said the paper’s management had already paid printing fees for a week in advance, so they continued publishing. “They just wanted to print for the one week that has been paid for,” the attorney said.    

Namiriano plans to appeal the court order, Yuggu said.   

The Juba Monitor was established in Juba roughly a decade ago after Southern Sudan seceded from the rest of Sudan. 

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