Let's Speak Out

George Livio and freedom

It is now six days since Radio Miraya Journalist George Livio was released from detention. His liberation has brought a lot of joy and jubilation amongst Journalists to the extent that many media personalities and media institutions including the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) which I head have been falling over themselves congratulating President Salva Kiir and his government for having freed George Livio. I have been wondering why many of these institutions including the United Nations which George worked for and is still serving have been largely quiet when George was in detention? You never condemned the government when it arrested George but you are now congratulating it for releasing him. Those congratulations are misplaced. The government was correcting an error it should not have made in the first place. I would be very happy if the United Nations asked the government to pay compensation to George for the almost three years he spent in detention in terrible condition. In July last year I spent 13 days in the same facility where George spent three years. Food was brought once a day at around 4 pm and it was always the same kind of food, janjaro or beans brought in from Uganda. There was always too much salt and little courtesy how it was served. My treatment was a little bit better as I had a room for myself but those of George were placed five or six in a room with rudimentary beddings which hardly qualify for a mattress and bedsheets. I am not sure if these beddings were smuggled in for the inmates by relatives or were provided by the security. I congratulate George for having come out of that place sane. Your resilience was legendry.  Two days after I arrived in the cell, I learnt that one of their colleagues had been taken to Juba hospital and died there. I heard singing coming from the room of those of George and I moved there (this was against the rule) and went and found George and his colleagues were holding a prayer for their fallen colleague. Tears flowed down my cheeks as I joined my cell mates in their prayers. George and colleagues told me if the man had been taken earlier to the hospital he would not have died. As I was being set free I made a promise to God that I would never keep quiet so long as my countrymen, Journalists or not were being treated like that. George Livio was arrested in wau on the 22nd of August 2014. He was accused of recruiting his tribesmen into the SPLA In Opposition (IO).  According to the law he should have been set free the next day; that is on the 23rd of August or be taken to court to face trial. He was never set free nor taken to court. He remained in that terrible place for almost three years. George deserves compensation for his troubles and resilience. George was held in detention illegally. If the authorities had anything against him they would have produced him in court and convicted him.

I am hereby asking the government to compensate any Journalist who has been denied his rights such as George Livio.

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