The security service in Sudan cracks down on news media, as the print-runs of two sports newspapers were confiscated on Thursday. Two journalists were summoned or tried in court, while the United Nations urged South Sudan to free a detained journalist.
El Sada and El Zawiya were confiscated on Thursday, a day after the confiscation of two other newspapers. The move has been denounced by the Journalists Network for Human Rights (JAHR).
Speaking to Radio Dabanga, journalist and general JAHR coordinator Faisal El Bagir considered the confiscation of the newspapers as “bullying and intimidating of newspapers and journalists”.
Last month sports newspaper El Asyad was suspended for an indefinite period. Sports papers are rarely confiscated by the Sudanese security service, who has the power to censor and confiscate newspapers.
El Jareeda and El Tagyeer copies were seized on Wednesday for unknown reasons while an opposition group held a press conference at the Taiba Press Buildings. It is the fifth confiscation of El Jareeda print-runs in several weeks' time.
Editor-in-chief of El Jareeda, Ashrag Abdel Aziz, was summoned to the security service's office in Khartoum on Monday.
Journalist in court
On Wednesday El Tayyar journalist Bahauddin Eisa appeared before the Press and Publications Court. A complaint was filed against him on an article he published about the emergence of internal disputes related to the Sudanese customs police.
Journalist detained in Juba
In South Sudan, the Journalists Network for Human Rights (JAHR) has condemned the security service's detention of editor-in-chief Alfred Taban because of an article he wrote for the English daily Juba Monitor.
Taban was arrested on 16 July by National Security Services agents, one day after the publication of an editorial article in which he called for the removal of the South Sudan President Salva Kiir and First Vice-President Riek Machar, criticising them for their unsuccessful implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement. He is currently being held without charges.
David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, urged the Government of South Sudan to immediately release Alfred Taban on Thursday. Samantha Power, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations said that Taban was “unjustly detained in Juba for critical reporting”.
Taban's opinion piece came as a response to the violent clashes in Juba on 7 July, between government forces loyal to the President Kiir and those loyal to the First Vice-President Machar, leaving hundreds of people killed. The incident was recently described as a clear breach of the peace agreement
JAHR coordinator El Bagir explained to Radio Dabanga that Taban’s arrest “represents a setback in the human rights record of the reporters in the state of South Sudan”. “While Alfred Taban has devoted all his life in defence of the freedom of opinion and expression.”
He demanded the authorities in South Sudan to release Taban immediately or take him to a fair trial.