Sudanese press under attack on all fronts

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the decision by Sudan’s National Council for Press and Publications in late April to prohibit 15 journalists from working for their newspapers. RSF urges the Sudanese authorities to rescind the ban, which is an act of censorship and a grave violation of freedom of information in a country where the media are constantly hounded.

Already the repeated targets of harassment, newspaper owners issued dismissal notices to the journalists concerned after receiving threatening letters from the Council.

The newspaper Al-Jareeda told Ahmed Amin, Hayder Ahmed Khair Allaand Selah Ahmed Abed Alah they were being fired on 28 April, a few days after it received a letter from the Council requesting their dismissal on the grounds that they were working without a licence. The next day, the daily Al-Sudani fired three of its journalists: Khalid Ahmed, who has been charged by the army with a cyber-crime, Hiba Abedazeem, who was briefly detained by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in September, and Nur Eldien Madani. Nine other journalists with four other newspapers have also been fired.

“These measures constitute another serious blow to media freedom, which has already been under constant attack in Sudan in the form of arbitrary seizures of newspaper issues and closures of newspapers,” RSF said. “We call on the Sudanese authorities, and especially the intelligence services, to stop persecuting the journalistic community, whose work is essential in a democratic society worthy of the name.”

The dismissals have come amid a surge in tension and major student demonstrations in several regions, in which members of the NISS allegedly beat two students to death. On 19 and 27 April, the NISS banned newspaper coverage of events linked to the demonstrations, the opposition and human rights defenders. And on 30 April, the NISS prevented the Sudanese Journalists' Network from holding a conference in Khartoum.

RSF issued a press release on 18 April condemning the repeated confiscation of newspaper issues. A total of eight seizures were carried out by the NISS in the space of a month.

Sudan is ranked 174th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.