Home | Press Releases    Friday 19 December 2003

When Security Officers Overrule Public Freedoms

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Press Release
SHRO-Cairo

The Jihaz al-Amn al-Wattani [State Security Department] of the Sudan Government issued a statement on the closure of the al-Jazeera Office in Khartoum. The statement expressed the Jihaz al-Amn displeasure at the Jazeera "lies and wrongful information," which had its office closed and, as shown in the Jazeera Channel today, December the 19th, 2003, Islam Salih, the Office Chief, publicly harassed.

Aside from the uncivilized manner of harassing the Jazeera Office licensed agency, the official statement of the Jihaz confirms earlier human rights reports on the chaotic situation of the government’s state of affairs whereas security officers directly run non-security state business, including curtailment of the Press, confiscation of private property, unlawful arrest and interrogation, and other non-constitutional intrusions in regular functions of the State.

The security occasional replacement of the repressive performance of the government-appointed National Press and Publications Council with respect to the press and other freedoms of expression in the country (as in the case of Al-Ayyam and the Khartoum Monitor unlawful suspensions) is possibly related to the regime’s failure to silence mounting concerns of the public about the peace process, ignore the need for full civil freedoms, or suppress the popular pressure for a lasting institution of regular democracy instead of the faltering rule of the NIF single-party single-candidate presidential regime.

As earlier stated (SHRO-Cairo Press Release, December 3, 2003-12-03 "Why Would a Peace-Negotiating Government Abuse Freedom of the Press?"): "While the Sudan Government executives and party leaders ascertain cautious commitment to the peace process, which is formally based on the realization of fundamental freedoms and human rights, the censor of the press systematically continues inside the country by firm government policy that practically curbs the peace process and the climates necessary for the next democratic transition."

The Organization contends, "This fact is further evidenced by elusive escalation of political repression: the more that the pressure for a comprehensive peace agreement mounts up higher demand for the exercise of public freedoms and human rights, the more NPC and the other state security agencies take harsher measures to eliminate the free press and the other civil necessities."

Among other human rights organizations, SHRO-Cairo has repeatedly addressed the Jazeera Channel to pay deserved coverage of the diverse political, social, and cultural activities of Sudan, including the democratic activities of the People of Sudan to remove the tyrannous governance of the country with all its extra-judicial security powers, crimes against humanity, under-development policies and practices, and the other social ills, such as racism and sexism, that continue to destroy the people and wealth of Sudan.

The Jazeera Channel has done a good job showing lively meetings with Sudanese speakers of different political backgrounds side-by-side with government officials. The Jazeera Office in Khartoum led by Islam Salih and his crew received increasing popularity having closely monitored the development of the renewed civil war in DarFur that the Sudan Government is ruthlessly escalating to genocide the DarFurian African-descent ethnic groups, plus uncovering the complete negligence of developing the region and the continuous unprecedented dehumanization of the poor population while billions of dollars are spent by the ruling party on military and security privileges and other wasteful operations.

The Jazeera coverage has equally done a good job approaching the civil war North-South conflict with public hearings of the voice of the Sudanese largely non-Arab non-Muslim leadership of the SPLM/SPLA along with the ongoing peace negotiations, thus avoiding the primitive biases of most Arab media stations that portrays Sudan as a nation of Muslim Arabs irrespective of the Sudanese non-Arab non-Muslim populations. The Jazeera coverage, which still needs to accommodate more space to the democratic opposition and civil society concerns of the Sudan, is remarkably advanced compared to the biased untruthful activity of the security-controlled Sudan Government information and culture ministry, press and publication council, or press agencies.

SHRO-Cairo asks the Sudan Government to comply with the International Agreement on Civil and Political Rights to which the government is obligated State Party. The government must:

? Stop wasteful military and security spending on privileged officers whose work is spreading chaotic meddling in regular state functions;

? Remove the Jihaz al-Amn al-Wattani for good to stop the State persecution of the press and the other media freedoms;

? Re-open offices of the Khartoum Monitor, Al-Ayyam, and the al-Jazeera with full guarantees, as required, against any further intrusions by presidency, security, police, prosecution, or governmental press council.

? Abrogate the notorious Jihaz al-Amn (State Security), Public Order, Press and Publication Council, Military, Police, Criminal, and Personal Status (family) laws that legalize unconstitutional violation of the internationally recognized freedom of expression and the other civil freedoms and human rights;

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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