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79 journalists detained in Sudan since protests began

February 20 - 2019 KHARTOUM

The Sudanese Journalists’ Network says that 79 journalists have been arrested since December, including some who have spent a month or more in the prisons and detention centres.

The network said in a statement that there are newspapers such as El Jareeda, El Midan, Akhbar El Watan, and El Baath have not been accessible to the readers for weeks.

The director of El Ashigaa printing house, Mohamed Widaa has pointed to the increase of the price for a ton of newsprint paper from SDG 75,000 to SDG 93,000 and described the increase as a disaster of the press industry.

Widaa said after the meeting with eight publishers of newspapers printed that the cost of printing of one copy will increase from nine Pounds to more than 10 Pounds.

He attributed the reluctance of citizens to buy newspapers for not keeping pace with the street and ignoring the protests and killings.

He criticised the authorities’ insistence on the prior security censorship and the removal of the news of daily movement from the newspapers of El Jareeda, El Midan, Akhbar El Watan and El Baath and turning the agents of the authorities to the editors of newspapers.

The Network’s statement echoes the assessment released by International press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) last week.

Print media throttled by censorship

The all-powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) continues to ban and seize newspaper issues. RSF has registered a total of 63 bans and seizures since 19 December. Al-Jareeda, one of the most-targeted newspapers, has managed to publish an average of less than one issue every two days since the start of the crackdown. This extreme censorship has already cost the Sudanese print media tens of thousands of euros.

Several journalists, including El Tayaar editor Osman Mirghani, El Tayaar reporter Shamael Al Noor and freelancer Durra Gambo, are being prosecuted for their coverage of the protests. Yousra Elbagir, a reporter for foreign media outlets such as CNN, the BBC and Channel 4, says she has left Sudan after being threatened with charges carrying a possible death penalty.

Neither the National Council for Press and Publications (NCPP), which regulates the Sudanese media, nor information minister Bushara Guma Aror responded to RSF’s phone calls and messages.

Sudan is ranked 174th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

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