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Confiscations of Sudanese paper continue today; Press Act to be re-written

May 16 - 2016 KHARTOUM
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(UPDATE 14:50) El Jareeda newspaper was again confiscated on Monday, after several days of seizures of the print runs last week. The daily newspaper had expected to resume publishing. A committee ordered by the Minister of Justice to make amendments to Sudan’s Press and Publications Act has held its first meeting.

Reasons for the confiscation of the print-runs by the Sudanese security service on Monday were unknown. El Jareeda journalists went on strike for two days, until Friday, in protest of the continued seizure of copies by the Sudanese security service.

The newspaper has suffered a financial loss of SDG90,000 ($14,750) following the confiscations. Editor-in-chief Ashraf Abdel Aziz said that the “successive confiscations will affect the economics of the newspaper, which is already deprived of government advertisements, and thus will be reflected on the situation of journalists working at the newspaper”.

The security service (NISS) banned the newspaper from publishing for two days starting Saturday, and print-runs were seized from the printing presses on a total four days last week.

Newspapers have been instructed not defy reporting bans set by the NISS, including the protests at universities in Khartoum and a report recently published by the public board of grievances, revealing financial corruption by Ministry officials. According to Aziz, El Jareeda’s copies were confiscated for covering this news.

Press and Publication Act

A committee for the amendment of the Press and Publication Act has held its first meeting in the presence of the Minister of Justice in Khartoum on Sunday. It is expected to conclude a report on the act, in effect since 2009, within two months.

Minister of Justice, Awad El Hassan El Nour called for making amendments “using the mandate we have in a transparent manner”.

Earlier, El Nour issued a decision to form a special committee for amending the Press and Publications Act for the year 2016. According to Sudan Vision Daily, representatives of the Sudanese Journalists Union, the NISS, and a number of experts take part in the group.

Chair of the committee, Fadlallah Mohamed confirmed the importance of amending the act, especially after the cessasion of the South. “Some articles of the act need amendment and review, this along with keeping it up-to-date in regard to some new developments in electronic media, monitoring, and the freedom of dessimination of information.”

According to the American NGO Freedom House, the 2009 Press and Publications Act allows for restrictions on the press in the interests of national security and public order, contains loosely defined provisions related to bans on the encouragement of ethnic and religious disturbances and the incitement of violence, and holds editors in chief criminally liable for all content published in their newspapers.

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