USA: RSF renews calls for an investigation into the killing of journalist Christopher Allen five years on
Allen, a dual US-UK citizen and freelance journalist, was repeatedly shot while covering a clash in Kaya, near South Sudan’s border with Uganda, on 16 August 2017 after having been embedded with rebel forces for three weeks. He was carrying only a camera and was 26 years old at the time of his killing. Allen’s family and legal team, along with RSF, have alleged that war crimes were committed in the deliberate targeting of Allen and the treatment of his body after his death, including trophy-style photos.
“On yet another anniversary, we again deplore the lack of meaningful action by all relevant authorities to ensure justice for the killing of Christopher Allen. No family should have to go through the painful experience that his family has endured over the past five years, of being denied justice and even basic answers about what happened. The US government’s failure to ensure accountability for the targeting of an American journalist leaves the door open for further such attacks. We call again for the Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into the circumstances of Allen’s killing without further delay,” said Clayton Weimers, Executive Director of RSF’s US Bureau.
Working directly with Allen’s family, RSF has issued numerous requests to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to initiate an investigation into this tragic episode. Now, after five years of apparent inaction, Congressman Adam Schiff, the co-chair of the Congressional Freedom of the Press Caucus, has echoed these same calls in a letter sent to the DOJ Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section formally requesting an investigation, as well as transparent updates for Congress and Allen’s family.
Two years ago, on the three-year anniversary of Allen’s killing, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions issued a statement noting that the lack of an official investigation sent “a very dangerous signal that journalists and media workers can be targeted with impunity.” She called for the governments of South Sudan and the US to ensure that the circumstances of Allen’s murder were “fully, independently and fearlessly investigated.”
Now, on the five-year anniversary, Allen’s family still lacks answers to even basic questions about his death. RSF continues to support their campaign for justice, including their call on President Biden to prioritize the safety of journalists and ensure that no journalist can again be targeted with impunity in this way.
South Sudan ranks 128th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index.