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Sudanese paper defies reporting ban – print runs seized

May 11 - 2016 KHARTOUM

Agents of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) seized the print run of El Jareeda independent daily newspaper on Tuesday, for the second day in a row.

The agents gave no reasons for the seizure; however, the Journalists for Human Rights Network suggest it is a reprisal for defying an NISS ban to report on student protests and detentions in Khartoum.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Network condemned the confiscation and demanded the security apparatus stop targeting of the press. They described the attack on newspapers as “a serious violation of the Constitution and international covenants on human rights”.

The statement points out that “A small number of newspapers, including El Jareeda, defied an NISS order of Thursday, April 28, not to publish information and news related to the demonstrations in the Sudanese capital, the worsening issue of the University of Khartoum, and the detention and dismissal of students.

On Monday, the Department of Criminal Investigation for Crimes of Information interrogated El Jareeda journalist Sarah Tagelsir for six hours. She was quizzed about the newspaper’s publication of an article that appeared that day aboutplagiarism in departments of directors of the National Assembly.

Press freedom

Sudan ranks an unenviable 174th out of 180 in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters Without Borders on 20 April.

The Index publishers point out that Omar Al Bashir, Sudan’s president since 1989, “has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and his country ranks near the bottom of the press freedom index. The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) hounds journalists and censors the print media, above all by closing down newspapers, such as the daily Al Tayar in December 2015, or by confiscating entire newspaper issues as they come off the press. Journalists are subjected to interminable judicial proceedings with potentially long jail sentences.”

UN Expert

On Thursday, the UN Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, concluded a visit to Sudan. Examining press freedom violations was one of the items on the agenda for his visit.

In his report, the UN Expert notes: “I would also like to express concern about ongoing censorship of newspapers, and increased restrictions on journalists from freely expressing their opinion. In view of the ongoing political dialogue, it is imperative that restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and association be removed in order to create a conducive environment for a free and inclusive national dialogue. In this context, the suspension by NISS of the Al-Tayar newspaper since mid-December 2015 is of concern. I have raised this case with the authorities, and I strongly recommend that the appeal of Al-Tayar newspaper against NISS’ decision to suspend its operations is guaranteed an independent judicial review along with provision of adequate compensation.”

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