15 June 2017

Sudan: Red Sea Journalist Held for Social Media Posts

Sawakin — The police of Sawakin locality in Sudan's Red Sea state detained a local journalist on Wednesday after the locality's Executive Director filed a complaint against the reporter.

Mohamed El Amin Osheek was detained yesterday and is being held at the Sawakin police station on charges of defamation after he posted messages of social media critical of the deterioration of electricity and water services in Sawakin.

Ocheek told Radio Dabanga that said it is an attempt to silence him, asserting his right to freedom of expression.

Media curbs

The Sudanese Journalists Network says that the Sudanese press is still facing real problems, most importantly by the state's prior and pre-censorship of newspapers and violations of journalists' rights.

Speaking on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, the network confirmed the rise in the violations against the press in 2016 and predicted a rise during the last half of this year.

Hassan Barkiya, the member of the Journalists' Network told Radio Dabanga that the Sudanese press is facing real problems, including authoritarian interventions by the state and structural problems related to the press institutions themselves and the press industry.

He said that the press is working in an unfavourable legal and political environment that restricts press freedom, hinders the work of newspapers, and poses a threat to the press.

He explained that the real dilemma is the government's interference with censorship including the confiscation of newspapers.

2017 World Press Freedom Index

Sudan ranks 174th out of 180 countries listed in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders. The index notes: "Although indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, President Omar Al Bashir secured another term in an April 2016 election marked by harassment of the media, censorship, confiscation of newspaper issues, media closures, and Internet cuts.

The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) hounds journalists and censors the print media by closing-down newspapers such as Al Tayar, Al Jareeda and Al Watan, or by confiscating entire issues as they come off the press. The authority of the NISS was reinforced by a January 2015 amendment to the 2005 constitution granting it powers equivalent to those of the army."

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