Security forces suspend Sudan daily
Move against Al-Sayha comes as government issues warning to news media
VIENNA, May 22, 2014 – The International Press Institute (IPI) today condemned the Sudanese government’s suspension of a newspaper that has reported on allegations of high-level corruption, the latest move by the authorities to muzzle independent news media.
Sudan’s state intelligence agency, or NISS, announced the suspension of the Al-Sayha daily on May 20 after confiscating its press run. It is one of several independent papers that have been targeted by the security forces in recent months.
NISS issued a statement saying Al-Sayha had reported on alleged high-level corruption “without a solid, professional investigation”.
The suspension order came a day after the government warned about the “repeated negative approach by some of the media to issues of national security, military affairs, and justice”, the independent Radio Dabanga reported. Khartoum also announced it would set up a state commission to review articles on corruption before publication, the Sudan Tribune reported on Wednesday.
Al-Sayha officials were not available for comment. But the suspension order was confirmed by independent journalists in Khartoum.
“The Sudanese government has carried out a systematic campaign to crush independent reporting on issues of national concern, but these efforts have not stopped the country’s journalists from pursuing the news,” IPI Press Freedom Manager Barbara Trionfi said. “Sudan’s president is on the record in calling for reforms, and the government needs to understand that press freedom and a flourishing independent media are the foundation of any political and economic reform.”
In April, IPI reported that Sudanese security forces were routinely confiscating press runs in an apparent attempt to cripple independent media. Publications affected included Al-Jareeda, Akhir Lahza, Al-Sudani, Al-Ahram Al-Youm, Alhurra, The Citizen and El Yowm El Tali.
Journalists and human rights groups told IPI that the seizure of newspapers appeared to have intensified since President Omar al-Bashir delivered a speech on Jan. 28 that called for political and economic reforms.
An IPI report issued in May 2013 documented a multitude of press freedom restrictions in Sudan, including government-led newspaper closures; suspensions of newspaper licences; the withholding and/or confiscation of newspapers; arrests, torture and harassment of journalists; and deportations of foreign journalists. The “Pens under siege” report also cited economic “wars” against newspapers involving the withholding of government advertising from media critical of the regime.
Al-Bashir, an ex-military commander who has ruled Sudan since 1989, is wanted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague on 10 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with the conflict in the country’s Darfur region.
He has faced mounting public unrest in recent months over the end of fuel subsidies and the soaring cost of living. Hundreds of protesters were killed or wounded in clashes with security forces in September 2013. Several newspapers reported that NISS agents began impounding their press runs following the protests.
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