On Sunday, the Sudanese security agents confiscated the print run of EL Asyad daily sports newspaper and suspended publication for an indefinite period.
The Sudanese Press Human Rights Organisation (JAHR) reports in a statement that the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) confiscated the paper from the printing press, which rarely happens against sports newspapers. EL Asyad daily is affiliated to El Hilal football club.
The statement terms “the prior censorship of newspapers” as “retroactive punishment”.
JAHR press sources said that the reason for confiscation was an article in the newspaper criticising the Governor of Khartoum State, Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein. The article “threatened to disclose his corruption related to the collapse of the El Ribat University building during his tenure as Interior Minister in June 2005.
As reported by Radio Dabanga last week, JAHR reacted to the confiscation of copies of Akhir Lahza, describing it as a “punitive and disciplinary security measure” against the newspapers for publishing unwanted reports. “It is aimed at inflicting political, economic and moral losses on the newspapers and to force them to exercise self-censorship.”
War against the press
Last week, Sudan’s First Vice-President, Bakri Hassan Saleh, said that “the Sudanese press is living in a state of clinical death” because of falling readership and circulation.
The Sudanese Journalists Network responded in a statement that the Sudanese press is experiencing the most challenging time in its history under the current regime.
“In its fierce war against the press, the regime has used all kinds of weapons and tactics to subdue the press, including confiscation of newspapers, the security ban on writing by journalists, intervention in the press, along with exploiting some of the laws to persecute and intimidate journalists via the parliamentary and judicial measures: to break the steadfastness of the journalists and humiliate them.”
The network described the new draft of the Press Act, which is secretly being prepared by the regime, as “the worst in the modern history of Sudan”.
The network said that it would “not stand idly by regarding about the conspiracy against the press and will always be at the forefront of defending a free and responsible press without the interference of the authority or control of Khartoum, so that it can play its proper role in the country and for society”.
The NISS imposes severe restrictions on press freedom and publication and dissemination of information, along with pre-publication censorship. Sudan tops the world's list of violators of press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders.