Sudan Activists Condemn RSF Detention and 'Enforced Disappearance' of Journalists

(File photo)
23 November 2023

Khartoum — The Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN) has strongly condemned the prolonged detention of Abdelrahman Warab, a journalist with Sudan News Agency (SUNA), by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) for the sixth consecutive month.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the network decried the RSF's "arbitrary and illegal" arrest of Warab last June, highlighting the lack of any legal justification for his detention. According to the syndicate, Warab's family has been unable to establish contact with him or obtain information regarding his whereabouts.

Expressing deep concern about the potential for torture, SJN said Warab's case could constitute an enforced disappearance, given the RSF's failure to disclose his place of detention. "This withholding of critical information prevents his family from visiting, assessing his health, understanding the reasons for his arrest, and facilitating access to medical care--a clear violation of international humanitarian law that mandates the protection of civilians in times of conflict", the statement said.

The network asserts that Warab's arrest is part of a pattern of systematic violations committed by the RSF against journalists and civilians. They called for a halt in targeting of journalists, compelled the RSF to disclose Warab's whereabouts, and to secure his "immediate and unconditional release, along with that of all detainees".

The statement highlighted a report issued by Reuters in July which indicated that the RSF is holding over 5,000 people in deplorable conditions in Khartoum, including 3,500 civilians, among them women and foreign nationals.

Since the outbreak of the war between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the RSF, journalists in Sudan have faced assaults, threats, enforced disappearances, and detentions, by both Military Intelligence and the RSF.

Dozens of human rights violations against journalists and other press workers have been reported in Sudan since April 15. Most of the newspapers and radio stations have been forced to close because of the fighting and the repression.

Radio Dabanga, in cooperation with 17 other news outlets issued a joint plea in mid-August, to address the critical state of press freedom in Sudan.

In October, the SJS said that the press and media in Sudan have faced unprecedented targeting since the October 2021 coup.

In the same month, online news outlet Sudan Bukra and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urge the Sudanese authorities to investigate and hold to account those responsible for killing journalist Halima Idris, who was run over by an RSF vehicle "while reporting for the media channel".

Before April 15, Sudan already ranked 148 out of 180 in the 2023 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, and 29 out of 100 (i.e. 'Not Free') in Freedom House's Internet Freedom Index.

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