Sudan journalists protest against curbing of press freedom

A group of Sudanese journalists on Sunday organised a sit-in in front of the National Press and Publications’ Council in Khartoum in protest against the government’s media policies.

The protesters journalists submitted a strongly worded memorandum to the Press Council calling for immediate intervention to protect newspapers against the “vicious and systematic attacks” by National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), and to cancel the suspension of several journalists.

The memo stated that the Sudanese media are witnessing an “alarming setback”, referring to the statement by the Minister of Information on 19 May warning the media not to cover items that “pose a danger to national security and the country as a whole.” Any newspaper that crosses the “red lines” would be suspended, the minister threatened.

 “Those red lines are loose and many-sided. They can be tightened according to the mood of the rulers,” the memo read.

State security prosecutor

Also on Sunday, more than ten journalists appeared before the state security’s prosecutor. They were released on bail, provided that they appear in court later. If they do not appear, each of them will have to pay a fine of SDG 50,000 ($8,700).

Loai Abdel Rahman, a journalist of El Sayha daily newspaper that was banned by the NISS on 17 May, told Radio Dabanga that the journalists were summoned to appear before the State Attorney. “Yet, accused journalists are supposed to be summoned by the Press and Publications Attorney rather than the state security’s prosecutor.”

He mentioned Osman Mudawi, Abdel Wahab Juma, Ibrahim Mirghani, Islam El Amin, Idris El Doma, and Lubna Abdallah among the journalists who appeared before the prosecutor on Sunday. He himself, Nabawiya Sirelkhatim, Marwa Kamal, Amar Awad, Faisal Abdel Rahman, El Tayeb Yasin, Mahjoub Osman, Abdel Hamid Awad, and Ahmed Yousif El Tai were summoned to appear today and on Tuesday.

Eight journalists had to appear on Wednesday and Thursday before the prosecution, on charges of crimes against the state: Idris El Doma, Mohamed Wid’a, Baha Eldin Eisa, Imam Mohamed Imam, Yasir Mahjoub, Ahmed Yousif El Tai, Hafiz El Kheir, and Salah Awouda, in addition to the security’s summoning of El Taghyeer newspaper’s correspondent in Nyala, Khaled Jibril.

The Canadian-based Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) has condemned the recent “vicious attacks” on the Sudanese media. “The press is terrorised and journalists are intimidated with the aim to force them to exercise self-censorship, or to cooperate with the security apparatus and passing its policies.” On 28 May, the EU released a statement in which it expressed “great concern about recent actions, specifically measures imposing renewed limits on freedom of the press, and the freedoms of expression, association, participation, assembly, and religion.”

File photo: Journalists protesting press curbs in front of the National Press and Publications’ Council in Khartoum on Sunday

Reporting by Radio Dabanga

Related:

Sudanese General warns of ‘decisive battle’ with media (28 May 2014)