August 27, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir has ordered the release of all journalists detained by the security authorities.
- The president of Sudan Omer Al-Bashir (AFP)
Sudanese journalists have been increasingly subjected to legal proceedings and incarceration on the grounds of reporting on issues deemed sensitive by the country’s security apparatus.
Recently, two female journalists were sent to jail on charges arising from writing on the alleged rape of a female activist by security agents.
A number of journalists from the country’s western region of Darfur are currently standing trial on account of their cooperation with the Netherlands-based Radio Dabanaga, which is banned by the authorities.
This month Sudanese authorities released Abu Zar Al-Amin, the deputy editor-in-chief of the pro-opposition Ra’y Al-Sha’b, after he served a prison term of nearly two years against the paper’s reporting on alleged cooperation between Sudan and the Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
“In honor of journalists on this occasion I order the release of all detained journalists,” Al-Bashir said on Saturday in an address to a gathering of journalists in the capital Khartoum.
Fresh violations of press freedom occurred this month in Sudan. The authorities temporarily suspended the publication of two dailies, Al-Jaridah and Al-Ahdath, without giving reasons.
Lobby groups and international organisations have accused Al-Bashir’s government of curtailing press freedom and using sham legal proceedings to target individual journalists and newspaper.
Margot Wallström, the special representative of the UN’s secretary-general on Sexual Violence in Conflict, this month condemned the jailing of journalists for speaking against rape incidents. “Rapists – not reporters – must face criminal charges in the Sudan,” she said.
Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based press-freedom watchdog, in June lamented “the disgraceful way the authorities are harassing and prosecuting journalists in Khartoum and the north of the country in an attempt to silence them and stop embarrassing revelations about human rights violation by the security forces.”
Also in June, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based advocacy group, said that Sudanese authorities continue to “aggressively” target individual journalists and publications through “contrived legal proceedings, politicized criminal charges, and confiscations.”
Results published as part of UNESCO 2011 World Press Freedom Day, Sudan ranks as 40 out of 48 in Sub-Saharan Africa for press freedom. Amnesty International described Sudan as a place where freedom of speech is being "openly violated”