International media freedom advocacy organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called for the immediate release of Amal Habani, one of around 15 journalists arrested in Sudan last week who is still being held. Kamal Karar, a journalist for El Midan newspaper of the Sudanese Communist Party is also still in detention.
As also reported by Radio Dabanga, the journalists were arrested on January 16 and 17 while covering protests in Khartoum and the adjoining city of Omdurman against an unprecedented increase in the price of bread.
The RSF statement highlights that Amal Habani, a freelance reporter who formerly worked for the El Taghyeer news website who was awarded an Amnesty International prize for her coverage of human rights, was arrested on January 16 while covering a demonstration in Khartoum called by the Communist Party.
According to the information obtained by RSF, she is still being held without any formal charge in a women’s prison in Omdurman, located just to the northwest of Khartoum, and she has not been allowed access to a lawyer.
“The continuing detention of Amal Habani is unacceptable and we demand her immediate release,” RSF editor-in-chief Virginie Dangles said. “Her arrest and the arrests of her now released colleagues were a flagrant breach of international law and testify to a desire on the part of the government to openly restrict the media’s freedom to cover protests.”
Five of the journalists arrested last week were freed on January 16, the same day as their arrest, after being held for just a few hours. They included the BBC and Al-Arabiya TV correspondents. Seven others, including the Reuters and AFP correspondents, were released on January 21.
Sudan remains near the bottom of RSF’s World Press Freedom Index, in which it is currently ranked 174th out of 180 countries.