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Two private newspapers closed down since start of the year


Reporters Without Borders - Alert

17 January 2012


Two private newspapers closed down since start of the year

The year began in Sudan in the same vein as previous ones, with new censorship moves. Although the country has a diverse media and enjoys some freedom of speech, the Khartoum authorities have stepped up efforts to silence publications that irritate them.

Within the past two weeks, two independent and opposition newspapers, Alwan and Rai al-Shaab, have been closed by security forces without explanation.

“These latest two newspaper closures show the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has yet to overcome his chronically repressive instincts aimed at silencing the media,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“We fear these examples are merely the start of many and call on the authorities to put an end to this spiral of repression.”

The press freedom organization demands that the two dailies be allowed to resume publication as soon as possible.

On 14 January, police raided the offices of the Arabic-language daily Alwan. Officers closed up the premises and took an inventory of all equipment without giving an explanation. A day earlier, the paper’s editor Hussein Khogli was told by telephone it would be closed down, after copies had been seized over the preceding two days.

The closure order was believed to have been given by Mohamed Atta, the head of the National Intelligence Security Services, and was believed to be linked to the publication of an interview with an Islamist political leader, Lubaba Alfadli. The newspaper was the target of similar suspensions in 2008 and 2009.

On 2 January, it was the Arabic-language Rai al-Shaab, the official newspaper of the opposition Popular National Congress Party led by Hassan al-Turabi, that was the authorities’ target for suspension. Its premises were closed and 15,000 copies of the paper were seized from its printing plant by NISS officials. Its manager, Nagi Dahab, has received no explanation.

The closure could be as a result of the publication of an interview with Gibril Ibrahim, the spokesman for the Darfur rebel group Justice and Equality Movement concerning the difference in how prisoners were treated by the JEM and by the Sudanese government.

The Sudanese Media Centre, a state-linked website, said the action was taken because the newspaper’s behaviour violated the ethical and professional standards of the journalists’ code of conduct.

The NISS previously closed down Rai al-Shaab in 2010. Its deputy editor Abuzar Ali Al-Amin spent several months in prison, where he suffered ill-treatment. The newspaper resumed publication last October after a court overruled its closure.


Deux journaux privés suspendus depuis le début de l’année

L’année 2012 commence au Soudan dans le même esprit que les précédentes : par des actes de censure. Dans ce pays qui dispose pourtant d’un paysage médiatique divers et d’une certaine liberté de parole, les autorités de Khartoum multiplient les mesures pour réduire au silence les publications qui les dérangent. En l’espace de deux semaines, deux journaux indépendants et d’opposition, Alwan et Raï al-Shaab, ont été fermés par les forces de sécurité sans la moindre explication.

"Les deux récentes suspensions de journaux démontrent que le gouvernement d’Omar el-Béchir n’est toujours pas décidé à rompre avec ses réflexes liberticides. Ces pratiques sont récurrentes et visent à réduire la presse au silence. Nous craignons que ces incidents ne soient que le début d’une série et appelons les autorités à mettre un terme à cette spirale répressive", a déclaré Reporters sans frontières, qui demande que ces deux quotidiens soient autorisés à reprendre leur publication sans délai.

Le 14 janvier 2012, la police soudanaise a fait irruption dans les locaux du quotidien en langue arabe Alwan. Les officiers ont procédé à la fermeture des locaux et ont procédé à l’inventaire du matériel, sans aucune explication. La veille, Hussein Khogli, rédacteur en chef du journal, avait appris la suspension de son quotidien au téléphone, après deux jours consécutifs de confiscation des exemplaires.

La décision de fermeture aurait été prise par Mohamed Atta, le directeur des forces de sécurité soudanaises (NISS – National Intelligence Security Services) et serait liée à la publication d’une interview de Madame Lubaba Alfadli, leader politique islamiste. Alwan avait déjà été victime d’une suspension similaire en 2008 et 2009.

Dix jours plus tôt, le 2 janvier, c’est le quotidien arabophone Raï al-Shaab, journal officiel du parti d’opposition Popular National Congress Party du Dr. Hasan Al-Turabi, qui était également la cible des autorités soudanaises. Outre la fermeture des locaux du quotidien, 15000 copies du journal avaient été confisquées chez l’imprimeur par des officiers de la NISS. Le directeur du journal, Nagi Dahab, n’a pour l’instant obtenu aucune explication des autorités.

Cette fermeture pourrait faire suite à la publication d’une interview du porte-parole du JEM (Justice and Equality Movement), Gibril Ibrahim, relatant les différences de traitement des prisonniers de guerre par le JEM et par le gouvernement. Le Centre soudanais des médias (SMC), site Internet affilié à l’Etat, justifie quant à lui ces mesures par un comportement du journal violant les standards éthiques et professionnels du code d’honneur journalistique.

Raï al-Shaab avait déjà été fermé sur décision de la NISS en 2010. Son rédacteur en chef adjoint, Abuzar Ali Al-Amin avait passé plusieurs mois en détention et avait subi des mauvais traitements (http://fr.rsf.org/soudan-un-journaliste-libere-sous-caution-24-08-2011,40837.html). Le journal venait de reprendre ses publications, en octobre 2011, suite à une décision de la Cour annulant sa suspension.

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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