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Sudan’s press under threat from ‘authoritarian interventions’

May 4 - 2017 KHARTOUM
File photo
File photo

The Sudanese Journalists Network says that the Sudanese press is still facing real problems, most importantly by the state’s prior and pre-censorship of newspapers and violations of journalists' rights.

Speaking on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day yesterday, the network confirmed the rise in the violations against the press in 2016 and predicted a rise during the last half of this year.

Hassan Barkiya, the member of the Journalists' Network told Radio Dabanga that the Sudanese press is facing real problems, including authoritarian interventions by the state and structural problems related to the press institutions themselves and the press industry.

He said that the press is working in an unfavourable legal and political environment that restricts press freedom, hinders the work of newspapers, and poses a threat to the press.

He explained that the real dilemma is the government’s interference with censorship including the confiscation of newspapers.

He pointed out that the press environment has become repellent to the journalists sparking many of them to emigrate.

He predicted the return of censorship according to the statements of the director of the press council who said the editors-in chief had called for it.

He also expected that the press would face further repression and harassment, and called on the press base to unite to protect the profession and the journalists.

He highlighted the rise in the rate of press violations last year, pointing to the registration of 57 cases of confiscation of newspapers in the fourth quarter of 2016.

He pointed to a slight decrease in the confiscation of newspapers and media outlets in the first quarter of 2017, but expected it to rise during the latter half of this year.

Journalist Faisal El Bagir, the coordinator of the network of Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), said that the Sudanese state is violating human rights including freedom of the press and expression.

Intimidation of editors

He cited the confiscation of many newspapers along with the summons and intimidation of the editors this year.

In a statement yesterday, the Sudan Press Freedom Organisation pointed out the situation facing the Sudanese press. The organisation called for overcoming these measures, extending more freedom of the press, and resort to the rule of law.

2017 World Press Freedom Index

Sudan ranks 174th out of 180 countries listed in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders. The index notes: “Although indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, President Omar Al Bashir secured another term in an April 2016 election marked by harassment of the media, censorship, confiscation of newspaper issues, media closures, and Internet cuts.

The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) hounds journalists and censors the print media by closing-down newspapers such as Al Tayar, Al Jareeda and Al Watan, or by confiscating entire issues as they come off the press. The authority of the NISS was reinforced by a January 2015 amendment to the 2005 constitution granting it powers equivalent to those of the army.”

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