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Darfur journalists condemn detention of reporter

November 30 - 2018 OMDURMAN
A policeman inspects a prison cell in Darfur (Albert Gonzalez Farran/Unamid)
A policeman inspects a prison cell in Darfur (Albert Gonzalez Farran/Unamid)

The Darfur Journalists Association has condemned the detention of one of their members, Omar Juma. He has been held by the security apparatus in Omdurman for two weeks, without any clear explanation so far.

The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) arrested journalist Omar Juma from his family’s home in El Mohandesin district. He was arrested along with eight others on November 12, then released the next day before arresting them again and keeping them in detention until today.

The Association has demanded in a statement Juma’s immediate release. Journalist and chairman of the Darfur Journalists Association, Mohamed Hussein, condemned the repressive measures that contradict the laws in Sudan and the commitments made by the director of the security apparatus.

These commitments followed the signing of the restrictive Media Charter of Honour in Sudan’s parliament on November 1. The charter was signed by newspaper editors in the presence of the prime minister, the attorney-general and the director of the NISS, Salah Abdallah (also known as Salah Gosh).

The charter stipulates that no material or news about the Sudanese regular forces is to be published without indication of a spokesman. The government made a promise not to confiscate newspapers or ban journalists from writing.

Association chairman Mohamed Hussein called on the NISS to stop the actions that would continue to suppress the freedom of press and expression and release all the detainees.

Journalists summoned, convicted

In October the Sudanese authorities continued its crackdown on Sudanese journalists and summoned them to appear before the prosecutor. Several of them had attended a meeting with diplomats from the European Union. On October 29, the Press and Publications Court in Sudan sentenced a former newspaper editor-in-chief to a prison term for two reports that were published in El Mustagilla newspaper.

Tribe, skin colour requested

For years Sudan has been ranked at the bottom of the World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders. Most recently, a 6-page form was sent out entitled 'Information Form Newspaper Editors-in-chief' asking for new personal photos, information about the husband's or wife’s full name, address, telephone numbers, and political affiliation on the day of Juma was arrested.

The Journalists Association for Human Rights (JAHR) has condemned the security apparatus’ distribution of the security form. Faisal El Bagir, the network's general coordinator, said in an interview with Radio Dabanga: “The security apparatus is not entitled to know your tribe, your friends, your wife, your political colour, or the colour of your vehicle.”

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