Isaac Vuni

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

The body of Isaac Vuni, a freelance journalist who was a correspondent for The Sudan Tribune and the Juba Monitor, was found dumped on a farm not far from the village where he lived on September 26, 2016.

The website South Sudan Liberty News reported, citing an unnamed witness, that armed men dressed in military uniforms abducted Vuni and his cousin from their home in Kerepi, a small village near South Sudan’s border with Uganda, on the night of June 4.

Vuni’s wife, Lucy Jua, told his former employer that six armed men took the journalist from his home in Kerepi, and said that she did not know who the abductors were. His body was found dumped at a farm in the village along the Juba-Nimule road, Khartoum’s English-language Sudan Tribune reported. His cousin, abducted with him, was still missing, the newspaper reported.

A colleague of Vuni’s, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, told CPJ that after several arrests for his reporting on corruption in state institutions in 2009, Vuni stopped signing his name to his freelance articles, fearing for his safety.

Renewed fighting in South Sudan has created a climate of fear. Journalists have been detained, and media outlets have been closed, CPJ research shows. Fighting in Vuni’s region has forced many residents to flee in recent years, according to the U.N. and news reports. CPJ was unable to confirm whether Vuni was targetted for his journalism or whether he was one of many civilian victims of the conflict.

In August 2015, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir threatened to kill journalists for reporting “against the country.” He told journalists following complaints about his government’s record of press freedom, “If anybody among [journalists] does not know that this country has killed people, we will demonstrate it one day, one time”.

South Sudan was ranked second in Africa and fifth worldwide on CPJ’s 2015 Global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered and their killers go unpunished.