Title: Update: Censorship surge in Sudan by security services continues and extends to pro-government news
Author: African Centre for Justice and Peace Stu
Date: 03-06-2014, 01:25 AM
Update: Censorship surge in Sudan by security services continues and extends to pro-government newspapers
(5 March 2014) The Government of Sudan’s (GoS) National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) have continued to subject newspapers to post-print censorship over the past week. Since January, at least eleven newspapers have been confiscated or prevented from distributing printed copies, some on more than one occasion. In a seemingly new emerging trend, traditionally pro-government newspapers have also been censored.
Since the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)’s last update issued on 24 February, the NISS has confiscated or prevented the distribution of at least eight newspapers.
On 26 February printed copies of the independently owned Eilaf newspaper were confiscated. Eilaf newspaper focuses on economic issues in Sudan. The magazine’s chief editor, Khalid Altegani, stated that no rationale was given by the NISS.
On 3 March the NISS confiscated printed copies of three traditionally pro-government newspapers, Al Ahram Alyoum, Al Houra, and Al Sudani.
On 4 March the NISS again confiscated printed copies of Al Sudani. Printed copies of another traditionally pro-government newspaper, Aakhir Lahza, were also confiscated. The daily issue of Algareeda was also confiscated for the third time in 2014.
On 5 March the NISS confiscated printed copies of the independent Citizen newspaper, a newspaper published in English. The traditionally pro-government Alhura newspaper and Eilaf were also prevented from distribution.
On each of these occasions, printed issues were either confiscated by the NISS or the publishing house was ordered not to distribute printed copies.
The reasons for the censorship of these newspapers are not known. Restrictions on the freedom of the media, including pre-print censorship and restrictions on the distribution of printed issues of newspapers, is an ongoing problem in Sudan. ACJPS has noted a marked increase in censorship in 2014, including the emergence of post-print censorship of pro-government media outlets.
Post-print censorship causes significant financial losses to media outlets and has been increasingly used as a tool by the NISS to intimidate editors from publishing on what are often referred to as ‘red line’ issues. These are issues which the GoS deems sensitive and seeks to control in public debate.
ACJPS calls on the GoS to immediately end its policies of pre- and post-print censorship, harassment of journalists, and the use of intimidation tactics designed to prevent publishers from reporting on issues the government deems sensitive.
Since January 2014 there has been a surge in government restrictions on the freedom of the media and freedom of expression in Sudan. With the inclusion of the latest confiscations, at least eleven newspapers have been confiscated or prevented from distributing printed copies, some on more than one occasion.
Since January, the NISS has prevented the distribution of printed copies of three traditionally pro-government newspapers and one independent newspaper on more than one occasion. Al Sudani, Aakhir Lahza, and Al Ahram Alyoum newspapers were each prevented from distributing daily issues on two occasions. The independent Algareeda newspaper was prevented from distributing printed daily issues on three occasions.
It is unknown what has triggered the increased surge in censorship by Sudanese authorities. The NISS has provided a reason for censorship in just one case, that of the Algareeda daily. The printing and distribution of Algareeda was suspended for a short while in January due to alleged ‘violations of publishing’ related to the publication of articles concerning increases in food, fuel, and gas prices and alleged corruption in government-owned cotton factories and cotton production in Sudan.
It is unclear why pro-government newspapers have been increasingly subjected to post-print censorship, though it is possible that ‘red line’ issues are becoming less predictable even for traditionally pro-government outlets and the NISS has become increasingly arbitrary in its censorship decisions.
Contact: Osman Hummaida, Executive Director, African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) in London on +44 7956 095738 or e-mail [email protected]