Nairobi, October 6, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists on Friday welcomed the South Sudan government’s creation of a committee to investigate the 2017 killing of British-American freelancer Christopher Allen, but called on authorities to ensure the inquiry is carried out credibly and transparently.
South Sudan’s Cabinet Affairs Minister Martin Elia Lomuro formed a seven-member committee to investigate the circumstances of Allen’s killing, including interviewing witnesses, and issue a final report and findings within 15 days, according to a statement made public on Monday, October 2.
“It is a relief that after six long years, South Sudanese authorities have reconsidered their refusal to investigate Christopher Allen’s killing, although the investigation committee’s tight deadline raises serious concerns that it may become a mere public relations exercise instead of a genuine desire to establish the truth,” said Muthoki Mumo, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative. “President Salva Kiir’s government must ensure the committee is given sufficient resources and time to carry out a credible, independent, and transparent investigation to finally deliver justice for Christopher Allen’s family and pave the way for similar inquiries into the killings of other journalists in South Sudan.”
Allen was shot and killed on August 26, 2017, while covering fighting between government and rebel forces amid a civil war. Following his death, South Sudanese officials claimed that military officers had shot a “white rebel” and rejected appeals to investigate the killing.
In 2019, lawyers acting on behalf of Allen’s family requested the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate whether the journalist’s killing and the treatment of his body after death were war crimes.
At least six journalists have been killed in South Sudan in connection to their work since the country gained independence in 2011. The country is also the world’s third-worst offender on CPJ’s 2022 Impunity Index, an annual report that spotlights countries with the worst records of securing justice for murdered journalists.