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Sudan’s top court reverses newspaper closure amid continued crackdown on press

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March 5, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese Constitutional Court on Wednesday reversed an order by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) that shut down the privately-owned al-Tayar newspaper more than a year and a half ago.

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Sudanese journalists hold slogans which reads in Arabic ’Free press or no press’ as they protest against the suspension of AL-Tayyar daily newspaper at Sudanese Journalists Union’s office in the capital Khartoum on July 17, 2012 (GETTY)

Al-Tayar was suspended for its coverage of a corruption case at the Cotton Company which is still being tried in court.

The editor in chief of the daily, Osman Mirghani said that the court’s decision was issued unanimously by the seven judges on the bench and described it as a "triumph for justice" and a "bright spot" for the Sudanese judiciary.

In a related issue, the NISS seized Wednesday edition of the Citizen, al-Hurra and Elaph. Yesterday it did the same thing to al-Sudani, Akhir-Lahza and al-Hurra.

Last month, it also confiscated three newspapers that included al-Ahram al-Youm, al-Watan and Akhir-Lahza dailies.

At the time an NISS source accused these newspapers of committing "numerous breaches" including their coverage of recent developments regarding the dispute with Egypt over the border Halayeb region describing it as a national sovereign issue.

"Halayeb is a red line," the source said.

The source also noted their coverage of issues that are still pending such as the Cottons Company adding that these measures will continue as long as newspapers continue to violate the journalistic code of ethics and NISS instructions.

He asserted that editors in chiefs have previously been warned about avoiding certain topics.

Journalists for Human Rights (JHR ) expressed concern over the high frequency of newspapers confiscation.

It said in a statement on Wednesday that the campaign comes as a prelude to creating a "comprehensive media blackout state" in the coming months which comes in conjunction with the escalation of the military situation on the ground in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Sudan Mashood Baderin said at a press conference last month in Khartoum , he met with NISS officials to convey to them complaints of restrictions on the press.

Baderin said that NISS officials told him that all measures taken by them against the press are done through legal procedures".

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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