Three years on from the killing of US-British journalist Christopher Allen in South Sudan, a UN rights expert on Tuesday urged the FBI to step up and conduct an investigation.
Allen, 26, a freelance reporter, was embedded with rebel fighters and fatally shot in the head during a battle with the South Sudanese army in late August 2017.
“The fact that for three whole years there has been no independent investigation into Mr. Allen’s killing sends a very dangerous signal that journalists and media workers can be targeted with impunity,” said Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
“The governments of South Sudan and the United States can and must take steps to ensure that the circumstances of Mr. Allen’s murder are fully, independently and fearlessly investigated,” she said in a statement.
“The FBI has a duty, both legal and moral, to investigate Mr. Allen’s killing because of well-founded suspicions that war crimes may have been committed by members of South Sudanese forces,” she said.
United Nations experts do not speak for the UN but report their findings to it.
South Sudan’s six-year civil war erupted in December 2013, just two years after it obtained independence from Sudan. The war left 380,000 dead and millions displaced.
Callamard said at least 10 other journalists had been killed with impunity during the civil war.
“Mr. Allen’s murder is indicative of the wider climate of hostility towards journalists in the country,” she said.
The rapporteur noted she had written to the South Sudanese authorities on January 30 this year asking about an investigation but had received no response.
Washington said it had raised concerns with the South Sudan government, while London voiced concerns about the lack of an investigation, said Callamard.
She, therefore, urged the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to conduct its own inquiry.