Officers of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) confiscated the print-run of El Khartoum daily newspaper this morning without providing a reason. On Friday and Saturday, all copies of El Sudani newspaper were confiscated at the printing press in Khartoum.
A journalist told Radio Dabanga from the Sudanese capital that the reason for the confiscation of El Khartoum newspaper today “must be a cartoon ridiculing the differences between the parties of the National Dialogue”.
The banning of the distribution of El Sudani on Friday and Saturday is most probably connected with a report on the pollution of drinking water in southern Khartoum, a journalist of the newspaper told Radio Dabanga.
El Sudani had found in an investigation that about two million people living in the southern parts of Sudan's capital and in villages south of the city are affected by the pollution of the White Nile. Tests confirmed that the water contains harmful substances such as lead and chromium.
The chemicals are most probably the cause of a high prevalence of gastrointestinal and chest diseases among the inhabitants of those areas. The harmful substances are reportedly remnants of El Yarmouk military factory at the Nile in southern Khartoum that was bombed, allegedly by Israeli fighter jets, in October 2012.
Hiba Abdelazim, a journalist of El Sudani who reported on this issue earlier this month was held by NISS agents in Khartoum on 10 September. She was interrogated for more than two hours.
During the past years, the NISS upgraded its already severe restrictions on press freedoms by restoring 'pre-publication censorship' and issuing a number of 'red lines' on matters that are not supposed to be tackled by the media.
Between 3 May 2014 and 2 May 2015, the NISS confiscated 66 print-runs of Sudanese newspapers, according to the Sudanese Journalists’ Association for Human Rights (JAHR).
On 25 May, the print-runs of ten newspapers were confiscated. Four of them were suspended for an indefinite period of time. The record stands with the confiscation of copies of 14 newspapers from the Khartoum printing presses on 16 February this year.
The purpose of confiscating print-runs is to exhaust the newspapers financially, the editor-in-chief of El Jareeda newspaper earlier explained to Radio Dabanga. “It is in fact a direct and methodical liquidation, meant to kill the independent press,” he said.
Sudan rates 176, together with Gambia and Venezuela, of the 199 countries listed in the Freedom of the Press 2015 report of the USA-based Freedom House.