Home | News    Tuesday 26 May 2015

Sudanese security confiscates print runs of 10 newspapers

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May 25, 2015 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) has seized copies of 10 newspapers from the printing press on Monday without giving reasons.

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A Sudanese man reads a newspaper as he waits to pay at a kiosk in the capital Khartoum (AFP)

The newspapers seized were Al-Tayar, Al-Rai al-Aam, Al-Intibaha, Akhir Lahza, Al-Sudani, Alwan, Al-Akhbar, Al-Youm Al-Tali, Al-Jareeda and Al-Khartoum.

Al-Intibaha, Akhir Lahza, Al-Jareeda and Al-Khartoum newspapers have been suspended indefinitely.

NISS did not give reasons for the move but several journalists suggested it was likely a reaction to news published by those newspapers on incidents of sexual harassment and child rape taking place inside school buses.

The newspapers are blamed for publishing statements of activists without referring to the competent authorities over its allegations.

On Saturday, social activist, Nasreen Ali Mustafa, revealed during a forum held by the Consumer Protection Association (CPA) cases of sexual harassment and rape taking place inside kindergarten and school buses, citing examples of charges filed by several mothers as well as cases that has been covered up.

Sudanese media watchdog Journalists’ Association for Human Rights (JAHR) described the move as continuation of the systemic crackdown on freedoms of press, publications and expression.

It praised in a statement on Monday efforts of journalists who work under extremely complex conditions and seek to make editorial products that comply with the professional standards, saying that very little of those materials find its way for publication while most of it is prevented by the security and self-censorship.

The Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN), for its part, called for taking a firm stance in the face of the vicious attack against press freedom, demanding journalists to escalate the confrontation by adopting options of protests and strikes.

It said in a statement Monday that NISS’s actions reflect the worsening social and political situation in the country, pointing to restrictions on publication of news particularly those pertaining to child sexual abuse and human rights violations.

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.

In a similar move last February, it seized copies of fourteen newspapers from printing press without giving reasons.

Sudan’s constitution guarantees freedom of expression but laws subordinate to the constitution such as the National Security Forces Act of 2010 contains articles that can be potentially used to curtail press freedom and instigate legal proceedings against newspapers and individual journalists.

Sudanese journalists work under tight daily censorship controls exercised by the NISS.

Journalists say that NISS uses seizures of print copies of newspapers, not only to censor the media but also to weaken them economically.

UNFORTUNATE DEVELOPMENT

The pro-government Sudan Journalists Union (SJU) has condemned the move, describing it as an unfortunate development that brought back memory of seizing 14 newspapers on 16 February.

It said that its executive office would remain in continuous session, noting they will contact the presidency, ministry of information, NISS and the National Council for Press and Publication (NCPP) to discuss the motives behind the move and bring those extraordinary measures to an end.

The SJU pointed out the move violates the 2009 Press and Publishing Act as well as all laws and international norms and conventions that govern press practice.

It stressed that those extraordinary measures negatively impact on press freedoms in the country, saying it also undermine all efforts carried out by the SJU internally and abroad to improve the image of Sudan with regard to press freedoms.

The Journalist body further called on newspapers to bear their responsibility towards protecting our social security, demanding authorities to stop suspension of newspapers and resort to the law.

Meanwhile, the chief- editor of Al-Jareeda newspaper, Ashraf Abdel-Aziz, said he was summoned by the NISS’s department of information on Monday, pointing that a security officer informed him they decided to suspend his newspaper indefinitely.

“According to the law, the NCPP is the concerned authority for issuing punitive measures not the NISS and those measures must be applied after all legal procedures,” he said

He said that the newspapers’ publishers, journalists, employees and readers badly suffer from the suspension decision.

(ST)

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