Africa: More Than 100 Press Freedom Violations in Sudan Since Start of Protests

A crowd protests the skyrocketed bread and fuel prices, among others, in El Gezira Aba in White Nile state, today.
press release

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the Sudanese government's systematic abuses against media and journalists, combined with economic pressure designed to prevent the media from covering a month-old wave of anti-government protests with a toll of at least 40 dead, according to several NGOs.

The crackdown is reaching alarming levels, with RSF tallying more than 100 press freedom violations in the past month. They include 66 arrests of journalists, six cases of accreditation being withdrawn from the correspondents of foreign media (including Al Jazeera and the Turkish news agency Anadolu), and 34 seizures of newspaper issues.

The leading social networks meanwhile continue to be inaccessible except to those using VPN-type encrypted networks.

The latest issue of the independent privately-owned newspaper Al-Jareeda was confiscated for the 12th day in a row today. The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), which oversees the persecution of the media, has effectively banned all coverage of the protests.

"They send agents to the newspapers or call editors to demand certain headlines, such as saying the police succeeded in ending small protests, rather than covering the protests themselves," a Sudanese journalists told RSF. "Now they are confiscating the newspapers at the printers, after they've been printed, with the main goal of inflicting economic losses on the newspapers."

"The lives of journalists trying to cover the protests in Sudan are now totally dominated by the regime's harassment," said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF's Africa desk. "Intimidation, censorship, propaganda and economic pressure are all widely used to prevent news from circulating and prevent journalists from working. We condemn the systematic nature of this persecution, which is reaching record levels."

The clampdown on media coverage, which RSF has been condemning ever since the protests began, has reached neighbouring South Sudan. Summoned by the media regulatory authority in Juba on 7 January, Al-Watan editor Michael Christopher was told to stop covering the protests in Sudan and to apologize to the Sudanese ambassador.

In a letter obtained by RSF, the Souths Sudan Media Authority said: "The ongoing protests in Khartoum are internal issues affecting a friendly nation; the media in South Sudan should not write or broadcast instigative statements and comments about it."

Sudan is ranked 174th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index, while South Sudan is ranked 144th

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