Reporters Without Borders condemns the government’s policy of harassing and intimidating the media. In the past few weeks, the intelligence services have repeatedly and arbitrarily seized newspaper issues or ordered newspapers to stop publishing, without giving any reasons.
There have been at least seven confiscations since the start of 2014 and there were more in the preceding months. The latest closure order came on 26 January, when the Arabic-language daily Al-Jareeda was told to stop publishing until further notice.
“These increasingly frequent acts of censorship, for which no explanation is given, are unacceptable and constitute flagrant violations of freedom of information,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa Desk.
“Although the authorities say they are ready to start a dialogue with the opposition and carry out reforms, the regime’s repressive apparatus continues to do everything possible to gag the press and stifle any criticism.”
Kahn-Sriber added: “Confiscating already printed copies of newspapers and ordering newspapers to stop publishing without any explanation indicate a desire on the part of the authorities to bankrupt the country’s media. We urge them to stop this policy of harassment and to lift the current ban on Al-Jareeda.”
The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) confiscated the copies of three newspapers – Al-Ayam, Alwan and Al-Sahafa – on 4 February shortly after they had been printed.
The NISS confiscated Al-Jareeda’s latest issue on 26 January after it carried a report implicating finance minister Badr El Din Mahmoud in corruption and ran a series of stories about fuel and bread shortages.
The order it received the same day to stop publishing was transmitted verbally by the police. Al-Jareeda received no written notification of the order.
Al-Jareeda is subjected to constant harassment and intimidation. The 1 December, 11 December, 22 December and 24 January issues were also seized as they came of the presses. Two issues of the newspaper were confiscated in September.
Sudan has been ranked 170th out of 179 countries in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index since 2012.
Photo : kiosk in Khartoum, AFP/Ashraf Shazly