February 5, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) has confiscated Tuesday issue of Al-Sahafa, Al-Ayam, and Alwan daily newspapers without stating reasons.
- A newspaper vendor in Sudan’s capital Khartoum (AFP)
However, several journalists said the newspapers were most likely being confiscated for publishing reports on Monday on the killing of a merchant at the hands of the pro-government Janjaweed militias in North Kordofan state capital city of El-Obeid.
They also said that the NISS blamed the dailies for using the term Janjaweed to describe this paramilitary force.
The Sudanese army spokesperson was keen to call those militias the Rapid Deployment Force saying they belong to the Popular Defense Forces (PDF).
The Janjaweed militias were mobilized by the Sudanese government to quell the insurgency that broke out in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003.
Some units of this militarized force are dispatched to South Kordofan to participate in a large scale military campaign currently ongoing on the positions of the rebels in South Kordofan.
The Sudanese committee for defending rights and freedoms accused the government of continuing to violate freedoms, demanding securing press and speech freedoms. It also urged to immediately halt NISS’s censorship and confiscations.
The independent group said in a press release on Tuesday that NISS confiscated the three newspapers without giving any reasons, pointing that confiscating newspapers and liberties reflect the government lack of seriousness to allow public freedoms and engage in a genuine dialogue with all political forces.
The committee questioned the government’s conflicting statements about allowing freedoms, saying journalists are working under tight conditions due to repeated summoning by the security apparatus.
It further underlined that publishers are suffering from difficult economic conditions, besides being targeted by NISS through preventing paid advertisement in order to force them to close down.
Last week NISS suspended the independent Al-Jareeda newspaper indefinitely.
It also shut down Al-Tayar and the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) newspaper Ray Al-Sha’b since 2012. Al-Midan, the mouthpiece of the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) is also suspended since more than a year.
Although NISS lifted a two-year ban on Ray Al-Sha’b last week, it stipulated 19 conditions for resuming its publication which were swiftly rejected by the editorial board and the PCP.
Independent media rights bodies have listed more than 35 confiscations of various Sudanese newspapers last year.
In the 2011-2012, Reporters Without Borders press freedom index Sudan was ranked 170 out of 179 countries.