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Newspapers sign restrictive media charter with Sudan's NISS

November 2 - 2018 KHARTOUM
Editors and government officials sign the Charter of Honour at the National Assembly on November 1 (RD)
Editors and government officials sign the Charter of Honour at the National Assembly on November 1 (RD)

Newspaper editors signed a restrictive media charter at the National Assembly on Thursday. The charter stipulates that no material or news about the Sudanese regular forces is to be published without indication of a spokesman.

A number of editors-in-chief of Sudanese newspapers signed the Charter of Honour at the headquarters of the National Assembly, in the presence of the speaker, the prime minister, the attorney-general and the director of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).

The charter contains articles stipulating that no material or news about the regular forces, their plans, activities and movements shall be published, except if they come from the spokesman of the specific force. The published facts shall not be distorted, truncated or fabricated and ought to be non-biased to racist, fanatical or insulting calls to religions and beliefs.

The NISS director, Salah Abdallah (also known as Salah Gosh), stressed the importance of the mechanism to confiscate newspapers in the events they cross the line, in his speech prior to the signing ceremony. “We will give the mechanism the opportunity to maintain national security, but we will not hesitate to do our part in the event the mechanism fails.”

He accused foreign embassies such as Saudi Arabia and the European Union of trying to recruit journalists by inviting them. He threatened to sue the newspapers and journalists in the event they “threaten the security service”.

Outcome of editors' committee

Abdallah said that the NISS will continue to monitor the work of the committee. In August, he and the editors of the newspapers agreed to form a committee to deliberate on the so-called red lines for Sudanese media.

New confiscations of newspapers would be temporarily suspended while the work of the committee was pending but have continued in the past months nonetheless.

Iman Osman, the editor-in-chief of El Midan newspaper, rejected the Charter of Honour signed yesterday, and called on the journalists to stand against it. “The charter is a new attack on press freedom in order to stop certain newspapers and certain journalists,” she told Radio Dabanga

“A genuine press charter of honour should be prepared by journalists with the aim of protecting the press. I am surprised by the participation of the security apparatus in preparing the charter, not informing journalists about it and sending it to the editors only.”

Faisal El Bagir, who is the coordinator of the Journalists Association for Human Rights (JAHR), added that the charter has been prepared, revised, reviewed and signed by journalists without interference from others.

JAHR has called on journalists to stand together against the charter before the local judiciary and then move to regional and international mechanisms in the event of unfair ruling against the press.

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