September 2, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s Supreme Court rejected for the second time a challenge by the country’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) against a daily newspaper that published a story about the rape of a female student by NISS officers last year.
- Building of the Supreme Court in Khartoum (photo Elaph)
Al-Jareeda newspaper reported at the time on the alleged rape of the 25-years old Safia Ishaq by NISS agents, which followed her arrest in Khartoum after an anti-government student protest.
A Sudanese court ruled against the newspaper ordering it to pay 5,000 pounds and also penalized a female reporter 2,000 pounds in a defamation case initiated by the NISS after the publication of a story about the rape for reporting a false story.
The appeals court upheld the ruling.
The lawyers of the newspaper appealed the decision before the Supreme Court which overturned the sentence in December 2011.
However the NISS asked again the Supreme Court to review the case invoking its jurisdiction in substantial matters to interpret the law.
The security apparatus argued that the press law provides that newspapers must perform due diligence and verify the news before it is published. The NISS stressed that this did not take place thus violating article 66 of the press law.
The highest court in a decision issued on August 22nd, seen by Sudan Tribune, reaffirmed the previous ruling rejecting the NISS appeal .
The Court said article 66 (defamation case) can only be enforced when there is a dealing with false news, and it is proven that the newspaper deliberately published a story despite it being bogus.
Further, the five-member chamber stipulated that the publication of the false news story must be done without comment.
In this decision, the Court appeared to be moving to ensure a large margin of freedom for the press as it says a false news can be incriminated and seen as a defamation when the bad faith of the newspaper is proven.
Safia has left Sudan and moved abroad after marking her name down as the first woman to publicly accuse government officers of rape.