Sudan: Journos Harassed for Reporting On North Darfur COVID-19 Death Spike

El Fasher — Two journalists have allegedly been harassed by security forces for reporting on the disproportionate mortality rate partly due to Covid-19 in the North Darfur capital of El Fasher.

Lena Sabeel and Aida Abdelgadir say that they were threatened and harassed by security forces for three days since Friday after they reported on the deterioration of the health crisis in the city. The Sudanese Journalists Network condemned the government actions and described it as "a setback to the revolution".

Sabeel and Abdelgadir explained that they were threatened because of their previous reporting on Covid-19 cases and the disproportionate death toll in North Darfur. They claimed that military intelligence and the acting governor of North Darfur constantly interrogated them after they published their report on the number of deaths and severe shortages of health services in North Darfur.

In a statement on Monday, the Sudanese Journalists Network and the Committee for the Restoration of the Journalists Syndicate expressed its concerns regarding the human rights violations inflicted upon the two journalists. In the statement, they said that such acts are reminiscent of the grave human rights violations of the security apparatus against journalists during Al Bashir regime.

The statement also explained that the two journalists were merely carrying out their professional duties and what the security forces did was "unlawful and against the spirit of the revolution".

'Unsubstantiated reports'

The acting governor of North Darfur, Maj Gen Malik Khojali claimed that the local government of North Darfur has been affected by "the unsubstantiated reports regarding the health situation". He said that the reports of the health situation in North Darfur were "exaggerated".

Gen Khojali said that from now on, the authorities "will resort to legal means against anyone reporting false information in North Darfur".

Minister of Information

In a statement on Sunday, Sudan's Minister of Information, Culture, and Tourism, Faisal Mohamed Saleh said that the allegation of human rights abuse against the journalists in question and the health situation in North Darfur were discussed with the acting governor during a phone call.

The governor assured the minister that the health situation on North Darfur has stabilised. He also expressed the local government's keenness to cooperate with the media and provide correct and confirmed information.

Saleh said that he respected the state's right to opt for litigation but should refrain from any human rights violation.

Saleh said he contacted the two journalists and listened to their stories and assured them that his ministry would follow up on the case.

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