Media in need of rebuilding
Omar al-Bashir’s ouster in a popular uprising in 2019 ended three decades of dictatorship during which Sudan was one of the world’s most hostile terrains for journalists. The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) spearheaded the regime’s censorship, arresting journalists, shutting down newspapers, confiscating entire issues as they come off the press, and imposing red lines that could not be crossed, with impunity. RSF registered more than 100 arrests of journalists at the height of the witch-hunt against the media in the regime’s final days.
This system of predation has left its mark, and the media must now be rebuilt over the ruins. The NISS no longer plays such a visible role in harassing the media but its predatory policies have not completely disappeared. According to RSF’s information, the Cyber Jihadist Unit, which was created to spy on the Internet and monitor journalists’ activities online, continues to operate and is spreading false information on social media with the aim of undermining the transitional government and protecting the interests of certain old regime figures who still control most of the media.
Launching new media outlets is difficult because the conditions are very restrictive and are limited in practice to the government, political parties and existing media companies. Women journalists occupy few media management positions and are often the targets of harassment and violence. Although the provisional constitution adopted for the transition guarantees press freedom and Internet access, the draconian laws that the old regime used against the media are still in effect. A free and independent press culture needs support, protection and training if it is to take hold after 30 years of oppression that entrenched self-censorship in most newsrooms.
175 in 2019
72.45 in 2019