RSF condemns continuing detention of four Sudanese journalists
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Sudanese authorities to stop arresting journalists and to release the four who have been held since their arrest by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) while covering protests against a big increase in the price of bread.
Two of the four journalists have been held for more than three weeks. They are Amal Habani of the news website Al-Taghyir, arrested on 16 January, and Kamal Karrar of the daily Al-Midan, arrested on 18 January. Neither has been formally charged and neither has been allowed access to a lawyer.
According to the information obtained by RSF, Habani’s health continues to worsen in the women’s prison in Omdurman where she is being held arbitrarily. Karrar’s family meanwhile reports that they have been told he has been transferred to a prison in Darfur.
Ahmed Jaddein of the daily Al-Jareeda has been held ever since his arrest while covering a protest march in Bahri, the northern district of the capital, Khartoum, a week ago. It is not known where he is being held. The fourth detainee, Haji Abdelrahman El Moz of the daily Akhbar El Yowm, was arrested without any form of explanation on 6 February.
The latest issues of three more newspapers – Al-Midan, Al-Tayar and Al-Jareeda – were meanwhile confiscated yesterday. RSF sources said Al-Tayar, which is an independent publication, carried an interview with a Communist Party leader who has been in prison ever since his arrest during the protests in mid-January.
“The NISS seems to be arresting just about any journalist it can catch,” RSF said. “We call for an end to this unacceptable practice and for the immediate release of the detained journalists. This wave of arrests and confiscations of newspapers since the start of the year is unprecedented. Censoring media outlets for covering stories that annoy the authorities is illusory as a way of silencing popular discontent. Journalists must be free to inform without fear of being targeted.”
In all, 18 journalists, including the correspondents of Reuters and AFP, have been arrested since the start of a wave of protests in Sudan in January. Fourteen were released on the day of their arrest and four were released after being held for four days. At the same time, the issues of at least 15 newspapers have been seized – mainly independent or opposition newspapers.
Sudan continues to be ranked near the bottom of RSF’s World Press Freedom Index – 174th out of 180 countries.