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UN expert reviews press freedom situation in Sudan

June 21, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Mashood Baderin, has vowed to include the situation of press freedom in the country in the report he will submit to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) next September.

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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)

The independent expert is in the Sudanese capital since June 17th for talks with Sudanese government officials on the developments that occurred since his last visit to Sudan last February.

Baderin discussed with the independent Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN) the situation of press freedoms recently.

Sudanese journalists work under tight daily censorship controls exercised by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).

NISS recently intensified its crackdown on press in the country accusing them of crossing the red lines through publishing reports which adversely impact the national security.

On May 17, the NISS ordered the suspension of Al-Saiha newspaper after it published accusations of corruption in the justice ministry. According to local reports, 13 journalists working for Al-Saiha have been charged and are being prosecuted for their writings.

Journalists say that confiscation and suspension of newspapers is a commonly used practice by the local authorities to overburden the newspapers with financial losses alongside other non-financial pressures.

SJN’s representatives told the independent expert of the deteriorating situation of press freedom and the tight censorship controls, mentioning the arrest of the journalists Hassan Isaac and Ashraf Khogali besides suspension of Al-Saiha daily.

They also pointed to NISS’s decision to suspend several journalists and columnists from writing.

The SJN said in a press statement that the meeting tackled recent crackdown on newspapers despite government’s promises to allow press freedom in the country, pointing to continuation of indirect censorship and confiscation of newspapers.

According to the statement, Baderin expressed interest in the situation of press in Sudan particularly as his mission is related to monitoring human rights and public liberties including freedom of press.

(ST)