1 November 2018

Sudan: Investigations Against Sudan Journalists Who Met With EU, U.S. Diplomats 'Preliminary'

Photo: IPI
Under the title "Why Good Journalism Matters: Quality Media for Strong Societies", the 2018 IPI World Congress was held in Abuja, Nigeria, from June 21 to 23, 2018.

Khartoum — Yesterday, the State Security Prosecution conducted investigations with three journalists and correspondents of news agencies because of their meeting, among other journalists, with Western ambassadors in October.

Bahram Abdelmonim, a journalist of El Yowm El Tali newspaper told Radio Dabanga that the prosecutor's inquiries included his person, Anatolia correspondent Khalid Abdelaziz, Reuters reporter and Sudan Satellite journalist Shawgi Abdelazim.

The investigation, according to Abdelmonim, included questions related to the nature of the meeting, which included 10 journalists with the ambassadors of the European Union and the US Charge d'Affaires.

Abdelmonim said that the State Security Prosecutor informed him that the investigations are preliminary with the aim to decide whether or not to file charges against the journalists.

He said that he answered the prosecutor's questions that the meeting with Western ambassadors discussed ordinary issues such as the National Press Act, the confiscation of newspapers and the suppression of journalists and that the link that brings together the journalists invited to meet the ambassadors is professional.

Print-run confiscated

Yesterday morning, the security apparatus confiscated all printed copies of El Watan newspaper and summoned its chairman of the management council, because of an article about Qatar and Al Jazeera channel.

Yousef Sid Ahmed, the chairman of El Watan newspaper council, told Radio Dabanga that the security representative told him during the summons that the reason for the confiscation was a column criticising Qatar and Al Jazeera.

The newspaper has been subjected to repeated confiscations and blocking of advertisements, which has exposed it to material and moral losses.

Ongoing media curbs

The Media in Sudan are continuously subjected to confiscations of newspapers, and summons and detentions of journalists.

In the end of June, the cabinet extended the power of the government-controlled Press and Publications Council as well as restrictions on the media to online news outlets, when it passed amendments of the Media and Publication Act. A month later, the NISS restored prior-censorship of newspapers.

In early August, editors-in-chief and the head of the NISS in Khartoum agreed in a meeting to form a committee to deliberate on the so-called red lines set by the security apparatus for Sudanese media. New confiscations of newspapers were therefore briefly suspended.

However, the NISS began gagging the press again on August 27, when the print-runs of El Jareeda and El Tayyar were confiscated. No explanations were given. Four days later, NISS officers stopped the distribution of El Jareeda and El Tayyar again, together with the print-run of El Rai El Aam, without stating a reason.

Abdelaziz told Radio Dabanga at the time that "in the past there used to be 'red lines' not to criticise the president or vice-presidents of Sudan, members of the security apparatus, and the police. However, these lines have become very unclear and unpredictable now".

In early September, three young journalists were summoned by security agents in Khartoum and El Gedaref. A Sudanese reporter was banned from writing. The print-run of El Saiha daily, the newspaper he was writing for, was confiscated on September 8.

Sudan is ranked at the bottom of the World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders.

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