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Sudan’s Constitutional Courts lift ban on newspaper

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May 1, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s Constitutional Court on Sunday has ordered to allow Al-Tayyar newspaper to resume publishing following more than four-month suspension by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).

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Al-Tayyar editor in chief Osman Merghani (L) speaks in a press conference with his lawyer Nabil Adeeb on Wednesday December 16, 2015 (ST Photo)

In June 2012, NISS suspended al-Tayyar indefinitely and allowed it to reopen in March 2014 upon a ruling of the Constitutional Court. However, it suspended the newspaper again on December 15, 2015.

Following the recent suspension, the newspaper’s legal advisor Nabil Adeeb said the ruling of the Constitutional Court underscored that the NISS doesn’t have the power to suspend newspapers.

He pointed that article (24) of the Constitutional Court Act prohibits resorting to any other law following its decision not to use it, adding that NISS has repeated its action by suspending al-Tayyar in clear defiance of the law and the court.

Adeeb added that he submitted a claim for the protection of a constitutional right to the Constitutional Court, saying he would use the court’s ruling about the unconstitutionality of the suspension decision as a precedent.

On Sunday, publisher and Chief Editor of Al-Tayyar Osman Merghani said the Constitutional Court informed them of its decision to lift the ban on the newspaper, pointing the court ruling was based on the 2014 precedent.

“The publishing of the newspaper has now become legal but we have [internal] administrative and professional arrangements. We would meet to determine the date for resuming publishing within a couple of days,” he said.

Merghani added that the court ruling is considered a resounding victory for the justice and a bright spot for the Sudanese judiciary, describing the ruling as the second “historic decision” by the Constitutional Court.

He described the ruling as a victory for the Sudanese state, pointing they would move forward without holding a grudge against anybody.

For his part, Adeeb described the Constitutional Court’s decision as a victory for the concept of the freedom of press, saying however the decision should have been made five months ago.

He stressed that the NISS must respect the court’s rulings and refrain from suspending the newspaper again, pointing to the previous court decision which clearly stated that the NISS don’t have the power to suspend newspapers.

Last February, Al-Tayyar launched a campaign to collect one million signatures to demand the lift of ban on the newspaper.

Also, in March, the journalists at Al-Tayyar went on a hunger strike to protest against the suspension of the newspaper.

However, a mediation committee comprising members of the Sudanese Journalist Union met with the strikers committee and proposed end the strike in exchange for a pledge that the case be referred to the Constitutional Court.

The mediators who said they are mandated by "official bodies" vowed that the government would be bound by the judge’s decision whatever it may be.

Legally, Sudanese press is protected under the provisions of the 2005 interim constitution but in fact the press is harshly controlled by the NISS which censure, confiscate and ban newspapers.

(ST)

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