On November 4, 2019, agents with the South Sudan National Security Services detained without charge Emmanuel Monychol, editor-in-chief of the privately owned The Dawn newspaper. The editor was previously attacked in 2018 in possible reprisal for his work, and is the subject of a government minister’s civil defamation suit, according to his outlet.
National Security Services agents first arrested Monychol in Juba, the capital, on October 21, 2019, and released him later that week so he could attend a funeral, according to an individual with knowledge of the case, who spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
CPJ could not independently determine the exact dates he was held; a report by the Dutch-financed news outlet Radio Tamazuj stated that he was released on October 24.
Monychol returned to the headquarters on November 4 in response to a summons and was detained there, according to that individual, who said that no charges have been disclosed against him.
Monychol is the editor-in-chief of The Dawn, a newspaper that covers local topics such as sports and business, as well as politics, and publishes both pro-government and critical content, according to that individual, who said they believed Monychol was arrested because the paper frequently featured criticism of government officials.
Monychol’s arrest followed his October 15 publication of a Facebook post on his personal account questioning South Sudan’s minister of foreign affairs, Awut Deng Achuil, for wearing a white wedding-style dress during an official visit to Eritrea, Radio Tamazuj reported.
Achuil is also a plaintiff in a defamation suit against The Dawn, which has been ongoing since 2017, according to a report by the newspaper that Monychol posted to Facebook as a screenshot. Achuil is seeking 3 million South Sudanese pounds ($23,030) in damages over two articles that she alleged were defamatory.
On October 30, 2019, The Dawn published a written apology for Monychol’s October 15 Facebook post regarding Achuil’s clothing, according to a copy of the newspaper reviewed by CPJ.
In 2018, five men shot at Monychol but missed, in an attack that he said may have been linked to his critical coverage of political figures, according to a report published at the time in The Dawn, which CPJ reviewed.
CPJ could not determine if Monychol had been given access to a lawyer or any other visitors while in detention.
CPJ’s calls to Michael Makuei, South Sudan’s minister of information, did not connect, and a text message sent to his phone went unanswered. CPJ also called Sapana Abuy, director-general for information and media compliance at South Sudan’s Media Authority, at a number CPJ previously used to contact him, but the call did not go through.
CPJ could not locate contact information for Achuil.