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PM Hamdok: Sudan press freedom still needs work

May 4 - 2020 KHARTOUM
Journalists from the Sudanese Journalists Network demonstrate for freedom of press in March 2019 (RD)
Journalists from the Sudanese Journalists Network demonstrate for freedom of press in March 2019 (RD)

Although progress has been made, the press freedom situation in Sudan is “still below the standards set by the transitional government, that was founded on freedom, peace and justice,” PM Hamdok said on World Press Freedom Day (May 3).

Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok pledged to foster the press and freedom of expression in Sudan.

The Ministry of Culture and Information welcomed the progress made by Sudan on the list of the countries that respect press freedom, compiled by Reporters Without Borders (see below). No longer being at the absolute bottom of this list “constitutes a motivation to further improve press freedom in Sudan”.

The Ministry of Culture and Information said that  journalists were at the forefront of the successful December revolution, and made sacrifices to bring down the Al Bashir regime.

The Sudanese Journalists Network called on the state to create press institutions that are “satiated with the values of the December revolution”.

The network pointed out that the vast majority of the press institutions still don’t have health insurance for their journalists and other employees. Publishers still violate labour laws, illegally depriving journalists of money, the network claims.

World Press Freedom Index

In this year’s World Press Freedom Index, which Reporters Without Borders (in French: Reporters Sans Frontières - RSF) compiles annually, Sudan rose 16 places after President Omar Al Bashir was removed from power. In 2019 Sudan occupied number 175 out of 180. According to RSF, only Vietnam, China, Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan did worse that year. South Sudan held place number 139.

In the 2020 Index, Sudan has risen to number 159, doing better than Burundi, Tajikistan, Iraq, Somalia, Lybia, Equitorial Guinnee, Egypt, Yemen, Azerbijan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Laos, Iran, Syria, Vietnam, Djibouti, China, Eritrea, Turkmenistan, and North Korea.

In an article titled ‘Press freedom still in transition a year after Omar al-Bashir’s removal’, RSF quotes Hasan Bargiya, a member of the executive secretariat of the Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN): “Most of the 18 daily newspapers that cover politics continue to be affiliated or close to supporters of the former regime, and economic condition prevent the arrival of new actors.”

RSF states that the Sudanese media are “still devastated by three decades of censorship and harassment, and the long-awaited changes have yet to materialise”. It urges the interim authorities “to do what is necessary to ensure that press freedom can become a reality in Sudan”.

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