5 July 2014

Sudan's Niss Confiscates Newspaper From Printing Press

Khartoum — Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) has confiscated on Saturday copies of the daily newspaper Al-Tayyar from the printing press.

Al-Tayyar, which is a privately daily owned by Osman Mirghani, was suspended in June 2012 for publishing a series of investigative articles on alleged corruption within Sudan's National Cotton Corporation (NCC). It was only allowed to resume publication last month.

Several journalists at Al-Tayyar said the newspaper was confiscated because it reported on Friday issue that the ruling National Congress Party's (NCP) secretary of political relations and minister of investment, Mustafa Osman Ismail, left for Egypt angrily due to the stalled national dialogue process.

The same journalists said that Al-Tayyar editor-in-chief, Osman Mirghani, and columnist, Shamayel Al-Nour, also commented on the report in their columns on Friday.

At the end of January, president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir launched a national dialogue initiative aimed at holding a comprehensive conference on a new constitution and ways to end the armed conflicts in the Two Areas and Darfur. He also issued a number of presidential decrees to ensure freedom of expression, press freedom and creating a conducive environment for this political process.

However, the National Umma Party (NUP) suspended participation in the dialogue process in protest against the arrest of its leader, Sadiq al-Mahdi last month and denounced the government crackdown on political and media liberties. The Reform Now Party (RNP) also suspended its participation in this political process.

Ismail who is the NCP political secretary was tasked with the dialogue with the NUP and was not happy with the Mahdi's detention following his criticism to the role of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia.

Last week, the speaker of the Sudanese parliament, al-Fatih Izz al-Din, expelled the head of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) parliamentary bloc, Ismail Hussein, from a session devoted to a draft bill on amendments to the country's 2008 electoral law. The PCP is one of the strongest supporters of the national dialogue.

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 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.

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 19 May, the Sudanese presidency delivered a firm warning to media outlets on its coverage of certain items that poses a danger to national security and the country as a whole.

On Friday, Sudanese police detained journalist, Aisha Al-Samani, from the Citizen newspaper, an English language daily, among political activists in Alnuhud town in West Kordofan.

Al Jareeda newspaper's journalist, Hassan Ishag, was also detained by NISS in Alnuhud more than three weeks ago. He was not released despite starting an open-ended hunger strike.

Last week, the NISS confiscated editions of al-Taghyeer, al-Intibaha, and al-Akhbar newspapers.

Al-Taghyeer newspaper was informed by NISS that it is not allowed to resume publication unless it receives permission from them.

According to journalists at Al-Taghyeer, the newspaper was suspended for its coverage of the press conference held by the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Mashood Baderin, besides publishing a mourning by the chairman of the rebel Sudanese People's Liberation Movement -North (SPLM-N), Malik Agar, of the rebel leader, Ali Karbino, who was recently killed in North Darfur.

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